Canada: Used Needle Scare for City Father
August 16, 2007
Nicholas Hermansen has been complaining to police and health officials about the discarded needles littering his Boyle McCauley neighborhood for the past year. Now, the 34-year-old father of two must undergo a series of tests for hepatitis and HIV after stepping on a broken needle tip in his backyard on Aug. 3.
Hermansen immediately phoned Capital Health's hotline, where a nurse connected him with the health authority's needle stick program. That night, he went to Royal Alexandra Hospital for blood tests. Though the initial tests were negative, "I have to go back for more tests after three months and after six months to see if there was anything on the syringe, to see if I contracted anything," he said.
Hermansen said he spots discarded needles lying around in the neighborhood about once a week, and he believes a needle exchange program for drug users is exacerbating the problem. The Boyle McCauley Health Center is one of five program sites run by Streetworks. "They say it's a needle exchange, but obviously there's something wrong with the math because [needles] end up on the streets," he said.
Marliss Tayler, Streetworks' manager, said the program distributed around 680,000 needles last year in about a 25-block inner-city area. Dr. Gerry Predy, Capital Health's medical officer of health, said Streetworks educates its clients about proper needle disposal and provides safe-disposal boxes to keep syringes off the streets. "But like other forms of litter, some of them get discarded in ways that are not appropriate," said Predy. "It's an issue I don't think is caused by the needle exchange program."
08.12.2007; Andrea Sands
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.