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Council May Purchase Needles

photograph from Science & Technology story

(8/9/2006)

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A city council has decided to write a new law. The law would allow drug stores to sell syringes. The council also thought about a needle exchange program. They approved money to study it.

Syringes are also called hypodermic needles. They are very helpful to some people. Some people use them to take medicine that they need to stay alive. The syringe injects the medicine into a vein. This helps the body to use the medicine better.

Right now, people need a prescription to buy syringes. This is because some people use them to take illegal drugs. It’s hard to buy syringes, so drug users often share needles with each other. They would also use the same need over and over. This is dangerous because used needles are not clean. They spread diseases from one person to the next. People who share needles can catch terrible diseases such as HIV. The disease is passed from one user to the next through the needle. Some think that there are 15,000 drug users who use needles in the county.

Some people agree with the council. They think that if needles are easier to get, this will stop. Drug users will not share their dirty needles if they have a good supply of clean ones. This might help stop the spread of diseases.

Opponents of the needle program don’t agree. They think needles should be regulated. They believe selling needles will condone drug use. They think this is the wrong approach. Some police officers think drug users need to get off drugs. Making needles easier to get will not give the users an incentive to quit. Selling needles could result in more needles thrown away with the trash. This could endanger workers. They could get stuck with a needle. The dirty needles could infect them with diseases.

If the law is passed, pharmacies could choose whether or not to participate. If they do, they would have to register with the County Health Officer. The County Health Officer would manage the program.

A similar proposal did not pass last year. But many other cities and counties have needle exchange programs.

(This was adapted from an original story provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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