Pubdate: Tue, 11 Feb 2003
Source: Canadian Champion, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing Ltd
Author: Jason Misner
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


Return Rate On Par With Neighbouring Regions

Administrators of Halton Region's needle exchange program say the return 
rate - the number of new needles given out versus the old ones returned - 
is on par with neighbouring municipalities that offer similar programs, and 
is serving a need.

Cate Bannan, manager of AIDS, STDs, sexual health and needle exchange 
services for the Region's public health department, said the return rate of 
74 per cent is equal to programs in Hamilton, Niagara Region and Guelph. 
But said she wants that number to be higher.

"We are very pleased with how well the program is doing," Ms Bannan said. 
"We think there are more users out there, but it's not epidemic."

A report released to the region's health and social services committee last 
Tuesday showed 6,899 needles were collected and 9,320 needles were handed out.

Broken down, 35 per cent of the program users were IV users, involving 
drugs like crack-cocaine and heroin. The remaining 65 per cent were steroid 

Overall, 202 clients used the program. They included:

133 from Burlington

41 from Oakville

20 from Milton

6 from Georgetown

2 from Acton

Data came from the first year the program operated full-time, between 
September 2001 and September 2002. It was a pilot program for one year 
prior to that, and regional council voted to take it on as regular program.

Ms Bannan said she's "pleased" that people using steroids have developed 
trust to access the program. Passing dirty needles among steroid users 
poses a risk to spreading diseases and must be treated seriously, she said.

Cecil McDougall, an outreach worker with the needle exhange program, told 
committee members that the region is a large area and that there's no 
defined area where users go. That means users can come from everywhere, he 

The free needle exchange program's objective is to get dirty needles off 
the street in order to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Clients 
remain anonymous.

The needle exchange program also offers drug counselling, pamphlets for 
safe drug injection and sexually transmitted disease prevention.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager