In an ongoing effort to reduce the transmission of bloodborne infections and their related health complications to people who share needles, the Southern Nevada Health District and Trac-B Exchange, in collaboration with the Nevada AIDS Research and Education Society (NARES), launched Southern Nevada’s first comprehensive needle exchange program, including a delivery component brand new to the United States-vending machines.
The implementation of the needle exchange program and vending machine pilot program is the result of efforts by the Health District, the Harm Reduction CenterLV and Trac-B Exchange in collaboration with NARES. People using the new needle exchange vending machines are required to register at Trac-B Exchange, as well as with community partners who are contracted with Trac-B to provide services. Community members accessing the pilot project services are limited to receiving two boxes a week. Each box contains items needed to reduce the risk of infections. In addition to providing people who inject drugs with access to sterile needles and syringes and facilitating the safe disposal of used needles and syringes, these programs can serve as a gateway to services and care they might not access otherwise. This includes information about health care, substance abuse counseling, treatment, and other services. The program is available to anyone who lives Southern Nevada.
“Needle exchange programs are model public health programs. It starts with providing a clean needle and syringe to one person. However, we know one in 10 HIV diagnoses occur in people who inject drugs. Providing clean needles and supplies is a proven method for limiting disease transmission in a community. In addition to providing supplies to individual clients, the goal of our program is to improve the health and well-being of people affected by drug use by increasing their access to health care, providing them with education, and reducing the risk of harm to others in our community,” said Dr. Joe Iser, Chief Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District.
Injection drug use continues to be a common infection source for newly diagnosed HIV patients. In Clark County, it is estimated that about 9 percent of new HIV diagnoses occur among people who inject drugs. Sharing needles increases the risk of HIV infection as well as infection with other bloodborne illnesses like hepatitis B and C. In recent years, heroin use has increased by 60 percent and the heroin and prescription opioid epidemics could lead to new HIV outbreaks even though between 2008 and 2014, annual HIV diagnoses among people who inject drugs decreased by 40 percent. The practice of sharing needles is higher among younger injection drug users, and recent statistics indicate that the percentage of whites who are starting to use injection drugs has increased 114 percent.
According to the CDC, just one in four injection drug users reported receiving all of their supplies from sterile sources in 2015.
“Trac-B Exchange is the first needle exchange program in Las Vegas with a consistent schedule of available times, a physical location for accessibility, a variety of harm reduction materials and supplies, along with testing and education. Trac-B is proud to assist all community collaborators in this cost-effective effort and in the promotion of the vending machine pilot project,” said Rick Reich, Program Director of the Trac-B Exchange.
Needle exchange vending machines are available at Trac-B Exchange’s location at 6114 W. Charleston Blvd. from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Monday – Thursday. Trac-B Exchange is a storefront location where people can utilize the vending machines to exchange used needles for clean ones. Each Wednesday, HIV and hepatitis C testing are available at Trac-B Exchange between 10 am. – 2 p.m. For more information, call (702) 840-6693 or visit www.HarmReductionCenterLV.com.
Additional locations for the needle exchange programs:
Aid For AIDS of Nevada (AFAN)
1120 Almond Tree Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Community Counseling Center
714 East Sahara, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Access information about the Southern Nevada Health District on its website: www.SNHD.info. Follow the Health District on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SouthernNevadaHealthDistrict, YouTube: www.youtube.com/SNHealthDistrict, and Twitter: www.twitter.com/SNHDinfo. The Health District is available in Spanish on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TuSNHD. Don’t have a Twitter account? Follow the Health District on your phone by texting “follow SNHDinfo” to 40404. Additional information and data can be accessed through the Healthy Southern Nevada website: www.HealthySouthernNevada.org.
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