UC Berkeley-Area Clean Needle Program Continues
October 27, 2006
On Dec. 6, the Berkeley City Council is set to consider whether to renew the health state of emergency that has allowed the city to conduct a legal needle exchange for the past 13 years.
The spread of blood-borne diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C, provides the basis for issuing the state of emergency. State law, which labels syringes as drug paraphernalia for people without prescriptions, can be suspended to address the emergency, explained LeRoy Blea, the city's HIV/AIDS program director.
Around 7 percent of new HIV cases diagnosed at publicly funded testing sites in Berkeley are attributed to IV drug use, said Blea. Without the needle exchange, that figure would be much higher, he noted. A California State University-Dominguez Hills study found that about 75 percent of people who use needle exchange programs will not reuse needles.
The Berkeley exchange serves an estimated 250 clients per month and distributes at least 11,500 needles each week, said Rick Christofferson, a volunteer with the city's distribution organization, Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution. The exchange also provides wound care, hepatitis C testing, and injection safety tips.
10.20.2006; Sarah Kamshoshy, Daily Californian; University of California-Berkeley
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.