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Sat Mar 29 2014 (Updated 03/31/14)Needle Litter Is the Problem; Needle Exchange Is the Solution
Sat Mar 29 2014 (Updated 03/31/14)Rate of Improperly Discarded Syringes in Santa Cruz is Comparatively Low
Steve Pleich writes: There has been much discussion over the last several months concerning the wisdom of having a fully functional Needle Exchange Program in our community. Many have expressed doubts about the public health benefits of such a program, but a clear-eyed and dispassionate analysis of those benefits has been subsumed by an overriding public safety concern.
In my opinion, a well run and efficient NE would not only serve the interest of public health, it would also effectively reduce the number of used syringes that are present in public spaces. And although it may seem counter intuitive at first blush, I submit that the best way to reduce needle litter is to prevent it at the source. Needle Exchange is not the cause of needle litter. It is the solution.
Syringe Exchange Programs, or as they are more commonly known, Syringe Services Programs (SSPs), operate with the primary goal of providing injection drug users (IDUs) with new, sterile injection equipment as a means of reducing the spread of blood-borne viruses and or injection-related infections. But perhaps just as importantly, SSPs have increasingly placed emphasis on simultaneously removing used injection equipment from circulation through a process of exchanging old syringes for new ones.
Previous Related Indybay Features: Santa Cruz County's "Revised" Needle Exchange | Are Public Safety "Activists" Planning to Shame Drug Addicts and Needle Users? | Mayor's Public Safety Task Force Member Is "Fine with Junkies Dying"