Rosie Perez Narrates amfAR Syringe Exchange Films

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Oct 30, 2013

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, has teamed up with actress Rosie Perez for a series of films that demonstrate the benefits of syringe exchange programs in reducing the spread of HIV.

"These new films deliver the message that syringe exchange programs play an important role in helping us end the AIDS epidemic here in the U.S.," said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. "We hope that these films will get Congress to realize that lifting the ban won't cost a thing, and will save millions of taxpayer dollars by helping to prevent new infections."

Dirty needles account for approximately eight percent of new HIV diagnoses. Statistics cite that American heroin users rose from 373,000 in 2007 to 620,000 in 2011.

The Oscar-nominated Perez narrates "The Exchange: Drugs and Race," a five-minute film that follows the lives of two individuals affected by drug addiction and ultimately positively impacted by syringe exchange programs.

The profiles of the Hispanic syringe exchange client and the African-American former addict now working at an SEP show the realities that these minorities face, disproportionately affected by HIV contracted through dirty syringes. In the U.S., African-Americans are 11 times more likely and Hispanics five times more likely to become infected with HIV from injection drug use than their white counterparts.

In 2009, Congress removed a 21-year prohibition on the use of federal funds to support syringe services program, only to reinstate the ban two years later. In 2013, as injection drug use continues to contribute substantially to the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, federal funds remain unavailable for syringe exchange.

The movie "The Exchange: Dollars and Sense" makes a compelling case for syringe exchange programs, via interviews with public health officials and SEP staff, who say that the programs saves lives and hundreds of millions of dollars in averted treatment costs for hepatitis C and HIV. They note that individual syringes cost less than $1, and every dollar spent on SEPs save $3-7 in HIV treatment costs.

And "The Exchange: Addiction and You" puts a dramatic spin on the descent from prescription drug addiction into heroin use, underscoring how these SEPs can help people from all walks of life.

To view these films, please visit

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook