Pubdate: Tue, 05 Mar 2002
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Kevin Connor


A new program is under way to get inner-city junkies to safely dispose of 
their dirty needles.

Capital Health, city hall and city police will start providing used needle 
receptacles in the hopes of curbing the number of used needles littering 
the inner city.

Dirty needles pose a public health risk, because they're occasionally 
contaminated with killer disease agents like HIV.

"People who use needles sometimes care about the health of others. We hope 
they will use (the receptacles)," said Dr. Marsha Johnson, deputy medical 
officer of health for Capital Health.

"It's also a place for people who find needles to dispose of them."

In 1997, a man found two hypodermic needles in a phone booth and was told 
by police to deal with them himself.

Police later went on the record saying the public should never touch 
abandoned needles.

There will be an educational poster campaign to instruct the public on how 
to properly dispose of used needles, said Mary Angus, a public health nurse 
involved in the program.

"We have no expectations of the public, and the education program will tell 
children never to touch a needle, but to get an adult," Angus said. The 
program - which will start tomorrow - has been successful in cities like 
Calgary, Angus said.

In Edmonton, the program will start with receptacles at the Bissel Centre 
and the Urban Manor.

There are 18 other receptacles available to any communities that want them, 
Angus said.

The Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission says there are more than 
10,000 intravenous drug users in Edmonton.

Last year, the city's needle exchange program collected more than 800,000 
dirty needles.

Police Chief Bob Wasylyshen has lobbied to establish a needle park in 
Edmonton - a place where addicts could safely and legally shoot up - to 
help contain the problem.
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