Canada: More Needles Given to Drug Users in Waterloo Region
August 18, 2009
The number of sterile needles distributed to injection drug users in the Waterloo Region has increased three-fold over the past five years, said health officials. The uptick reflects better service provision rather than a growth in the number of IDUs, said Karen Verhoeve of the region's public health unit.
Launched in 1995, the needle-exchange program helps prevent blood-borne infections among IDUs, noted the report. Besides needles, the program provides IDUs with sterile swabs, distilled water, and clean containers, in which drugs can be mixed and heated for injection. The sharing of injection equipment among IDUs can quickly transmit viruses such as hepatitis C, which is more infectious than HIV.
The region's four needle-exchange sites logged 1,647 visits, mostly repeat clients ages 25-44. Safe needle disposal services are provided through 11 community organizations, including food banks, community kitchens, and shelters.
Waterloo Region Record
08.17.2009; Frances Barrick
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.