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Syringe Exchange

IV drug users are at high risk of spreading bloodborne diseases like hepatitis C and HIV. To combat this threat, the city of San Diego has a mobile clean syringe exchange program that operates twice a week. New York City has a wide network of clean syringe exchange programs and more IV drug users than any other city in the U.S.

San Diego’s mobile needle exchange operates out of a camper van in East Village on Thursday nights.

San Diego’s mobile needle exchange operates out of a camper van in East Village on Thursday nights.

Photo by Kenny Goldberg

San Diego’s clean syringe exchange collected 183,000 used needles in 2008.

San Diego’s clean syringe exchange collected 183,000 used needles in 2008.

Photo by Kenny Goldberg

An IV drug user reads an informational pamphlet on safe injection practices

An IV drug user reads an informational pamphlet on safe injection practices

Photo by Kenny Goldberg

IV drug users wait their turn to get clean syringes.

IV drug users wait their turn to get clean syringes.

Photo by Kenny Goldberg

In New York, in addition to distributing clean needles, syringe exchanges distribute alcohol pads, bottle caps (to be used as cookers), and sterile water.

In New York, in addition to distributing clean needles, syringe exchanges distribute alcohol pads, bottle caps (to be used as cookers), and sterile water.

Photo by Kenny Goldberg

Syringe exchange in East Bronx serves a large number of IV drug users.

Syringe exchange in East Bronx serves a large number of IV drug users.

Photo by Kenny Goldberg

Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center is one of 12 syringe exchange programs in New York City.

Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center is one of 12 syringe exchange programs in New York City.

Photo by Kenny Goldberg

Exchange workers check on their supply of syringes.

Exchange workers check on their supply of syringes.

Photo by Kenny Goldberg

Comments

Avatar for user 'RaymondPaquette'

RaymondPaquette | July 7, 2009 at 4:52 a.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

San Diego is unconscionably far behind as far as HIV and Hep C prevention are concerned. And we all know that's because both are spread primarily thorough shared needles. San Diego has ignored the problem (and the solution-providing clean needles to drug users) since the early 80's. The illegal, activist/volunteer-operated needle exchange provided hundreds of thousand of clean needles to drug users each years starting in 1992, while risking arrest. And now we're supposed to be happy that the city allows (not supports, not funds, just allows) legal needle exchange to take place. And the legal exchange is forced to comply with all kinds of political restrictions (not in my neighborhood!), and is disgracefully limited in their ability to do their job. There are approximately 30000 injection drug users in San Diego. Do you think that 183000 clean needles (about 6 per user per year) will stop the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV?
Let the good people at the needle exchange do their jobs.
Let them expand so they can go where they are needed, when they are needed.
Let them give out needles to people who need them, even without a used one to exchange.
This is about health. And saving lives.

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