Pubdate: Sun, 02 Sep 2001
Source: Times Argus (VT)
Copyright: 2001 Times Argus
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A needle-exchange program continues run by 
volunteers and through private donations is seeking a permanent source of 

The 5-month-old program has cost about $500, said program coordinator Tim 
Moran. The staff at the ACT 1/Bridge Program, a Burlington detoxification 
center, have volunteered their time to run the program.

They give free, clean needles to intravenous drug users. The goal of the 
program is to reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis 
and HIV.

About 1,000 needles have been given to about 20 people.

The exchange is being supported mostly with private donations, Moran said. 
He has researched grants, but none fit the program, he said. He would like 
to find a permanent source of funds.

"We've kind of shoestringed it," Moran said.

It is legal to buy syringes, which addicts use to inject intravenous drugs 
such as heroin. However, drug users often share needles, which can spread 
HIV and other blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis.

Moran said the number of people the program has seen is about on track with 
his projection.

"My sense is that it's going to definitely get bigger even, because the 
problem is getting worse," he said.

Needles are available at three sites in Burlington, which aren't being 
advertised to avoid problems with neighbors. Staff are on-site to talk to 
addicts and people can pick up information on treatment if they want, Moran 
said. He's been pleased that a number of addicts have sought treatment 
through the exchange program.

"We're seeing some nice, positive results," he said.

The Legislature approved needle exchanges two years ago. The state hasn't 
earmarked any money for exchanges, and the federal government prohibits 
using federal funds for such programs.

Organizers of the second state-approved needle-exchange program in 
Brattleboro say they hope to begin delivering clean needles to homes of 
some drug users.

Susan Bell of the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont said the needle- 
exchange program is growing slowly but steadily. The AIDS project began its 
needle exchange in April. People come to the Brattleboro Area Drop-In 
Center two nights a week for fresh needles and other equipment.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager