Pubdate: Sun,  9 Feb 2003
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Copyright: 2003 Burlington Free Press
Author: The Associated Press
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


ST. JOHNSBURY -- A nonprofit agency will continue running its needle
exchange program for drug users but is seeking clarification from the state
Health Department on several of its requirements.

The Vermont commissioner of health recently said she would allow the program
to proceed under a number of conditions.

After that announcement, Vermont CARES Executive Director Kendall Farrell
declined to comment on whether the program would continue.

In a written statement Friday, Farrell said the nonprofit agency is seeking
clarification from the Department of Health on some of the conditions,
including on the meaning of a one-for-one exchange.

That condition was backed heavily by St. Johnsbury Selectman Gabriel "Gib"
Handy, who contended that clients should receive only one needle for every
one they brought in.

Farrell expressed concerns about requiring clients to collect needles.

"We are seriously concerned about requiring program participants to amass
potentially infected needles, increasing the likelihood of needle sticks,"
she said.

The program is designed to provide clean syringes, allowing those who might
otherwise inject heroin with dirty needles to prevent contracting hepatitis
C and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Vermont CARES is also looking for clarification from the Health Department
on a condition that formalizes the role of the program's community advisory

Another condition imposed follows the original intent of the program. On the
original application to the Department of Health, Vermont CARES requested
that needles be delivered by outreach workers to clients.

Farrell said the condition would allow trained peer outreach workers to
reach people with an increased risk for contracting HIV.
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