Las Vegas Will Soon Have Vending Machines That Dispense Clean Needles

Las Vegas Will Soon Have Vending Machines That Dispense Clean Needles

The machines come with boxes each containing clean needles, alcohol wipes, tourniquet, disposal box for needles, a safe sex kit and help information sheet that can be availed of without any cost up to twice a week only. Three vending machines located in central Vegas will be operational by the end of May, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that heroin use continues to increase across the U.S. Its most recent report, based on studies from 2002-2013, noted that the greatest increases in use occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use, including women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.

"This is a harm reduction approach", Chelsi Cheatom, program manager for Trac-B Exchange, told KSNV.

To try and lower the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C infection through shared needle use, Las Vegas will be the first US city to install public syringe vending machines.

Here in the US, harm reduction groups - which offer clean drug paraphernalia to users in order to lower rates of disease transmission and illness - are usually required to keep track of their clients. Users will have to have to register with the centers to get a personal card with an access code for the machines. "Anytime someone's engaging in a behavior that could cause them some potential health side effects, we want to encourage them to reduce their risk". According to Southern Nevada health officials, the initiative is part of an effort to reduce the transmission of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C, KLAS reported.

Last year, Congress partially lifted the federal ban on funds for syringe exchange programs.

Heroin-related overdose deaths also increased during the same period, almost quadrupling to 8,200 deaths in 2013.

The health district estimates that about 9 percent of new HIV diagnoses in Clark County are people who inject drugs. "The issue now is more, what method is appropriate for my community?" They hope to keep drug users who get their fix via syringe from contracting diseases by reusing needles that could carry bloodborne infections.

Needle exchange programs are generally considered a huge success.

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