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08/06/2008 05:22 PM ID: 72560 Permalink   

Controversial Needle Exchange Program Extended


A controversial needle exchange program in rural Yolo County, California has been extended for another year. The program was started last year with $100,000 to reduce disease rates in IV drug users. It currently serves about 150 people.

Kathy Lambert, a Woodland resident, has discovered her puppies chewing on syringes in her back yard and thinks drug users tossed them over her fence. Others have said they have found needles in their parks and neighborhoods.

Proponents say the goal is to save the county millions in health costs, including liver transplants. Dr. Bette Hinton said "These are expensive diseases we're trying to prevent" but acknowledges it will take years to see if the program is helping.

    WebReporter: morgora Show Calling Card      
ASSESS this news: BLOCK this news. Reason:
I have worked in a drug charity for a year and we have a well stocked needle exchange which is the focal point ofour harm minimisation strategy. It is in place to reducethe number of cases of Hepatitis, HIV and other blood bourne viruses.
These programs always attract alot o controversy but the nuber of needles discarded is always minimal which you look at the big picture; the media hype causes the public to get scared. If you educate your clients properly on the dangers of sharing IV equipment, and he consequences of their actions if they do not return used works (ie: they lose the service) then you get a much better response.
  by: Raychybabe   08/06/2008 06:22 PM     
  Why would these kind  
of things attrack controversy? We have had this here for years and years (15 or so I believe). No one ever talked about no one cared.
  by: Flutje   08/06/2008 09:16 PM     
I think it's a combination of things, really. Part of it is the attitude toward drug use in general in the U.S. with some saying these types of programs actually encourage drug use. Then you have the problems caused by people who carry their rigs with them.

Since it's illegal to be packing a syringe and we have a significant homeless problem in Sacramento, homeless addicts tend to ditch their drug paraphernalia just anywhere when they see a cop. I can walk you through areas where I know we'll find multiple syringes, crack pipes and other assorted items (including drugs) stashed in bushes or tossed on the ground. When these things end up being tossed over a fence into someone's yard or buried in the sand on a beach or on the ground in a park, the surrounding residents get mad. Can't say I blame them, either.

It's an issue out here with no easy answers, really. Most of the needles end up coming back (85% according to the source), but the ones that don't were most likely discarded in an unsafe manner at the first sighting of a cop to avoid arrest.

  by: morgora     08/06/2008 09:26 PM     
  Well in this  
case it seems that having a syringe should not be illegal. I am surpised it is illegal anyway.

If it were not illegal folks wouldn't dump them when they see a cop.

That should reduce the ammount of syringes laying around. It will never totally go away that is sadly enough the nature of the beast but reducing the ammount is a good step.

<quote>with some saying these types of programs actually encourage drug use</quote>

That must be the dumbest thing I have ever heard?

There isn't a drug addict on the frigging planet that started out with injecting heroine? It is something they move 'up' to. But even it weren't no one ever became a drugaddict because he or she can freely change syringes.

Wow, there must be a lot of dumb folks where you live.
  by: Flutje   08/06/2008 11:57 PM     
  Whilst I Think Needle Exchanges Are A Good Idea  
There needs to be more regulation to prevent syringes from being dumped in the street.

There used to be a needle exchange next to where I live and there have been at least a couple of occasions when I've seen syringes just lying on the pavement. Now I know that the number of syringes discarded like this is minimal, but it still puts members of the public at risk. A person or animal could stand on a discarded needle, or a kid might pick it up.

We never had any trouble from the needle exchange, the people kept pretty much to themselves, but the needles in the street was a bit of a concern.
  by: TabbyCool     08/07/2008 02:17 PM     
Dunno about other places, but most public toilets around melbourne AUS have safety boxes where one can dump used syringes. I'd think that would be a less controversial way of getting disposal, no?
  by: gimboid   08/07/2008 02:26 PM     
  The US is full of stupid  
It's also full of just plain mean. The needle exchange encouraging drug use argument is frequently trotted out along with "but but but - the children!" and "drug users know the risks and they deserve what they get". The level of willful ignorance and lack of objective thinking is astounding, really. Not to mention the overwhelming attitude that the money should be spent "elsewhere".

It's hard to find a public toilet in my area, especially on weekends or after business hours. For the homeless it's even worse. Many businesses won't allow them inside to use a toilet unless they purchase something and then they do so only grudgingly. (Or openly lie and say the toilet is out of order.) I can also just imagine the public reaction to a sharps container in a public toilet. It wouldn't be pretty.

Until attitudes change about drug use and addiction, poverty and lack of education in general, I don't see us making a whole lot of progress. The best we can do is try to protect the health of the community as a whole and one of the cheapest ways to do that outside of prevention is to make sure disease isn't being spread. Needle exchange programs seem to be a good way to do that in the IV drug using population and their partners/family members. If only we could get people to accept that. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't. We're definitely more into retribution than anything else in this society, IMO.

  by: morgora     08/07/2008 02:52 PM     
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