I am shocked at the commission’s decision to end the needle exchange program.
It is irresponsible and unconscionable to end a public health program that prevents the spread of life-threatening, blood-borne diseases like hepatitis and HIV.
It is also a financially short-sighted decision.
If the county abdicates support for the exchange program without ensuring that it is taken over by another entity, it is probable that the number of new HIV and hepatitis infections will increase — which, in turn, will put further demand on the county’s already overburdened and underfunded health care resources.
Additionally, the needles currently collected via the needle exchange for safe disposal are likely to be thrown away in conventional trash or left as litter, threatening the health of non-drug users.
I would be interested to hear our commissioners explain how protecting the health of all the residents of our county is an “irresponsible use of taxpayer funds.”
Statistics about the efficacy of needle exchange programs can be found at harmreduction.org/syringe-access/syringe-access-tools/cost-effectiveness-of-syringe-access-programs.