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International News

Canada: Province Announces Program to Safely Dispose of Needles

March 3, 2006

On Wednesday, the Prince Edward Island government announced a new safe needle disposal program, titled "Don't Get Stuck." Free containers will be available for residents to safely dispose of syringes, needles, lancets, and EpiPens. The disposal bins can be obtained at PEI pharmacies, AIDS PEI, the Diabetes Association, and the Diabetes Education Center. Residents who drop off their filled bin at a pharmacy will get a new one free.

However, what PEI really needs is a needle exchange program, said AIDS PEI's Barb Gibson, who is promoting the idea to health officials. She said she distributes more than 11,000 free needles a year in order to prevent blood-borne diseases like HIV from being acquired or spread by injection drug users.

In return, clients give AIDS PEI more than 9,000 used needles, many of them contaminated with infectious diseases. "We're trying to encourage our clientele to come in and bring their used needles to us so we can dispose of them appropriately," said Gibson.

"About 48 percent of my clients reuse needles, which is a very dangerous practice," said Gibson. "We use donation money to buy needles. That's why it's so important for us to be able to get the provincial Health Department to be onside with us and help us out."

The disposal project is expected to cost PEI about $9,000 ($7,900 US) annually, while the estimated cost of a free needle exchange project is $70,000 ($62,700 US) annually. Gibson has met with Health Minister Chester Gillan, and feels he is supportive.

"It looks as if the Department of Health has taken some initiative in supporting our needle exchange, what that will look like I do not know. It's too soon to tell," said Gibson. "We do have some very hopeful signs that this will be something that we can handle on their behalf."

Back to other news for March 3, 2006

Adapted from:
The Guardian (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island)
03.02.2006; Wayne Thibodeau

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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