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Friday, October 9, 2015

Needle Exchange Programs Reduce Needle Sharing

The State of Indiana has been in the midst of an HIV outbreak, directly linked to the intravenous use of the prescription opioid Opana ®. Historically, the state offered little access to clean syringes which resulted in needle sharing. Responding to the crisis, Governor Mike Pence declared a state of emergency and helped pass a new law allowing needle exchanges in community affected by an epidemic of HIV or hepatitis C.

While many lawmakers across the country are skeptical about needle exchange programs, most health experts argue that these programs reduce disease transmission and provide unique opportunities to talk about addiction treatment with addicts. In fact, a new study has found that needle-sharing was reduced dramatically in Indiana after needle exchange programs came to be, USA Today reports. The research was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers used data from 100 needle exchange program clients between the program’s launch in April through June 6, 2015. The clients visited the program more than twice, with at least seven days between visits, according to the article. The data indicated that needle sharing dropped by 85%.

On top of clean needles, Indiana’s program provides:
As part of a comprehensive strategy needle exchanges work, says Jerome Adams, Indiana’s state health commissioner.

“Emergency (syringe exchange programs) can rapidly reduce risk behaviors capable of transmitting HIV in an outbreak setting," the researchers concluded.

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