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LA centers to gain from federal funding approved for needle exchange programs

Published On: 04-15-2016 in Category: drug addiction treatment, recovery


California was one of the five states that comprised almost 50 percent of the new HIV diagnoses in America in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even today, the situation remains grave. According to a report on hivplusmag.com, parts of Central California have the highest death rate due to HIV in the state. And higher addiction rate is one of the reasons.

Looking at the scenario, needle exchange program goes a long way in preventing the spread of HIV in addicts. Till now, no extra funding was approved for this program. But now a new bill, approved earlier in 2016, allows federal funding for areas where there is an outbreak of HIV and hepatitis. Lifting the ban can aid in decreasing the spread of infectious diseases when there are a huge number of drug addicts.

Needle exchange program

Needle exchange programs allow injection drug users to get clean needles so that reuse and sharing can be done away with to check HIV spread and outbreaks. People with drug addiction visit the Harm Reduction Center, Skid Row in Los Angeles for needle exchange.

The new government move is expected to benefit the poor and lead a safe life. With the abuse of prescription drugs and opiates growing alarmingly, more states are planning to facilitate needle exchange program as a method to save lives.

Shortcomings of needle exchange program

According to critics, allowing federal funding for needle exchange programs can decrease the probability of people going for recovery as they would continue to use drugs due to the availability of clean syringes.

On the other hand, the ban on federal funding would restrict the use of clean syringes because staff and operations of the program would have to work without any monetary gains. Even though the money is meant for staff and operations and not for syringes, officials do understand its benefits and use a part of the money for syringes also.

Mark Casanova, executive director of Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, which runs the syringe exchange on Skid Row, known as the Harm Reduction Center, said, “About a third of his $350,000 budget for the exchange program is spent on the 1.2 million syringes he hands out each year, and he will have to continue relying heavily on private donations to pay for them.”

Needle exchange programs are implemented in large cities. However, it is required that the programs reach even the smaller cities and address new injectors. Now, federal funding can help the existing centers to expand and open new ones for addicts.

Awareness among youth

Harm Reduction Center in Los Angeles understands the use of clean syringes. The wall on the poster of the center reads, “Needle exchange saves lives.” The center does not ask many questions or follow any appointment process as that would act as a hassle for addicts wherein they would have to give information about insurance or identification. The center especially offers needles to people who are addicts and homeless.

A needle exchange program cannot only help reduce the cases of infectious disease, it can also be used to create awareness about the dangers of addiction and show the addicts the path to recovery. If you or someone you love is dealing with an addiction, contact the Los Angeles Drug Treatment and Rehab Center to find out about its treatments. Visit us online or call at 24/7 helpline number 213-986-2445 for customizable treatment options and available resources in your area.

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