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Mayor wants to bring back needle exchange program

Mayor Jerry Sanders wants to bring back a clean needle program that was shut down last year. He says the program that allows IV drug users to exchange dirty needles for clean ones will help the city battle a regional health crisis. KPBS reporter Beth Ford Roth has the story.

The clean syringe exchange program started in 2002. State law required the city council to approve a state of emergency every other week to keep it going. When two council members resigned in 2005, there were no longer the votes on the council to approve the program, and it ended. A new state law now requires the council to vote only once to get the program going again.

Critics say needle exchange programs promote drug use. But Mayor Jerry Sanders refutes that, and wants to bring San Diego's program back.

Sanders: The reasons I support the program are simple, statistics show that clean needle exchange programs greatly help to reduce the transmission of hepatitis C and HIV that occur through the sharing of syringes.

The city council votes on the Clean Syringe Exchange Program next Tuesday. Beth Ford Roth, KPBS news.

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