Year of Publication



Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Dr. Richard Ingram

Committee Member

Dr. Julia Costich

Committee Member

Dr. Kathi Harp


In 2017, 70,000 lives were lost to fatal drug overdoses with approximately 46,000 of those involving the use of prescription and illicit opioids (CDC, 2018b). Unaddressed, the opioid epidemic is costing large amounts of money, lost productivity and valuable lives.

Injection drug use has also become increasingly common in the United States, as it is an efficient means of consuming opioids. Unfortunately, injecting drugs is also an efficient method of transmitting bloodborne diseases. Estimates show that in the United States, 8% of all new HIV infections in 2010 and 22% of all adults and adolescents with HIV resulted from injection drug use (Lansky, 2014). Injecting drugs isn’t as uncommon as some might thing. Though it can be difficult to estimate the number of people who inject drugs, it has been reported somewhere between 4.5 and 8.6 million people inject drugs (Lansky, 2014). As there has been an increase in this behavior, the prevalence of infectious diseases spread through contact with blood have increased (Meiman, 2015). The continued rise in rates of injection drug use (IDU), and subsequent infectious disease indicate the need for a response from the United States government. One evidence-based strategy for reducing the health consequences of injection drug use is the implementation of safe injection facilities, which have been legalized and/or decriminalized in the Netherlands, Norway, Canada and 9 other nations. In this capstone, I will examine the potential impacts of legalizing safe injection facilities in the United States on non- fatal overdose, fatal overdose, HCV and HIV. I will also discuss the current United States federal law that would need to change or not be enforced in order to open and operate safe injection facilities without risk of prosecution.

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