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Needle-exchange program fails in South Florida

If you know someone or have been the person who was addicted to drugs, you know how serious an addiction is. People who abuse drugs may not have the option to buy additional needles or syringes, making each dose potentially dangerous for reasons other than the drug alone.

Infection, the spread of diseases like hepatitis or HIV and other issues make reusing needles dangerous to those using drugs as well as to those in the community. Needle-exchange programs aim to stop the spread of disease and to encourage seeking treatment for drug addiction.

A bill that could have expanded the needle-exchange program in Miame-Dade will not pass this year, according to a sponsor for the bill. Even though there was a late compromise sought to limit the bill’s scope to two counties, Palm Beach and Broward, it won’t pass.

The bill, known as HB 579, also known as SB 800, could have made it possible for needle-exchange programs to operate throughout South Florida. In 2016, a five-year pilot program was approved for Miami-Dade. That program helps those addicted to and using drugs by offering overdose reversing medications, new needles to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases and substance abuse counseling.

The new bill originally asked for the programs to extend statewide. At the moment, it’s not legal for these programs to operate outside Miami-Dade County. Although changes were made to the bill, which received criticism from other areas in Florida, it failed to get taken up by House leaders. Broward and Palm Beach Counties both had officials interested in having needle-exchange programs.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Bill to expand Miami-Dade needle exchange program will not pass this year, sponsor says,” Elizabeth Koh, accessed March 21, 2018