California: Needle-Exchange Program Offers Resources, Counseling
September 2, 2010
The needle-exchange outreach, Any Positive Change (APC), in August celebrated 15 years of service. In addition to home delivery, it provides counseling, resource assistance, treatment referrals, and more, said founder Annina van Voorene.
Visiting clients' homes provides APC staff a unique opportunity, allowing them to help solve problems they would not otherwise know about. "We know them. They open up to us," said van Voorene. "We can see the flavor of their lives. It's an incredible opportunity for education and counseling."
For example, APC staff can troubleshoot concerns such as clients who do not have running water. They can also teach users the cleanest and safest way to inject to avoid infection. "If only we had a penny for every person who said, You're the only person who ever treated me with any respect,'" van Voorene noted.
According to van Voorene, Lake County has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS among California's rural counties. From 2002 to 2009, the county logged 60 HIV cases. Between 1998 and 2009, the county recorded 62 AIDS cases, 65 cases of chronic hepatitis B, and 1,611 chronic hepatitis C cases.
APC is funded through grants and does not receive any county or state support, said van Voorene. In 2008, the county Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution authorizing needle exchange. One year later, APC was recognized by the board as a community-based organization, and the group agreed to provide data to Lake County Health Services.
Board Chair Anthony Farrington said he thinks APC is helping reduce the spread of blood-borne disease and would like to see the program have a fixed site offering additional services.
Lake County Record-Bee (Lakeport)
08.27.2010; Katy Sweeny
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