The San Francisco Drug Users Union recently received reports from residents of an area south of Market Street aka SOMA that there was an increase in the number of improperly discarded intravenous syringes in the alleyways. The specific alleys were in an area between 6th and 7th streets and Folsom and Harrison. The SFDUU planned and executed a thorough sweep of the area this past Wednesday August 28th between 5-7 pm.
Three Staff members and three general members gathered at the SFDUU office at 149 Turk St. at 5:30 and set off pushing the SFDUU's new Mobile Needle Exchange Vehicle aka "Da Rig" which is outfitted with multiple sharps containers, lights and a coffee cup holder. All members wore t shirts identifying us as SFDUU members. With rubber gloves, tongs, and small sharps containers in hand we made our way down Sixth St. and proceeded to scan the dark crevices and curbs in all the alleys where there were reports of syringes. Surprisingly few syringes were found in the areas where they were reported to be. We found the most syringes closer to Sixth St. but overall less than 100 syringes were found in a large area of SOMA. There was much more evidence of human feces then there was discarded syringes. Afterwards members and staff agreed it was a success and warmly received by the community.
At one point we stopped to ask people at a dog walking area if they had seen any needles and they all scratched their heads and had a hard time remembering the last time they had seen one. This is in a town where over two million needles are given away at exchanges so somebody is doing something right. Is it the drug users who are predominantly properly discarding of their used syringes? Based on the numbers it would seem that very few of of those two million needles are ending up on city streets. It's time for drug users to stand up and take some of the credit for accepting the education received from the needle exchange providers on safe disposal of used intravenous equipment.
At the exchange we run we know that drug users feel and act responsibly about syringe disposal in the vast majority. We know because while many are homeless they still carry portable sharps containers and bring them to us to exchange. The SFDUU was proud to come and do the Community Clean Up and will plan to respond to requests from the community as often as possible in the future.
Gary West should get credit for building "Da Rig" The members who volunteered were Zack Doc, and Johnny II, Johnny Lorenz and Dylan Gealach-Selkie of the SFDUU staff were there as well.