Pubdate: Fri, 20 Feb 2004
Source: Recorder & Times, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 Recorder and Times
Author: Megan Gillis
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


A task force trying to launch a needle exchange for local intravenous drug 
users is looking for supportive pharmacists and public input.

"We're looking for community support," said Jane Futcher, director of 
clinical services at the tri-county health unit. "If people have negative 
things to say we need to hear it. And if people want to get involved and do 
community outreach, we'd like to hear that as well."

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Harm Reduction Task Force is advising the 
health unit on getting citizens involved and accepting of a needle exchange 
program. Needle exchanges, which are at work across the province and 
country, aim to keep addicts from sharing needles and with them the 
Hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV. They aim to ensure that dirty needles 
are properly discarded so bystanders aren't accidentally pricked.

The task force, including public health nurses, addictions workers and 
police, hopes to have enough support to have a pilot project running by 
summer. The pilot would then be evaluated with the goal of taking the 
program countieswide next fall.

They hope to use local pharmacies - whose staff would get training - to 
dispense and collect needles. A study found many drug stores are already 
disposing of dirty needles and selling syringes to people who don't need 
them for medical reasons.

The task force's first choice is to pilot the needle exchange in Smiths 
Falls as a large urban centre with many supportive organizations. But they 
still need to get pharmacists, the town and the board of health on side, 
Futcher said.

"Smiths Falls is our first choice," Futcher said. "Whether it ends up in 
Smiths Falls, we're not sure yet. If we can't get pharmacists to do it, it 
won't be in Smiths Falls."

Pharmacists from across the area will be invited to an information session 
next month.

A diverse group of people are on the task force, led by public health nurse 
Sara Craig, with colleague Carran Watson. Fay Garvin is studying drug use 
for the safe communities coalition. Rhonda Grant is a Gananoque police 
constable. David North and Dawne Smith work at Tri-County Addiction 
Services. John Hoysted is from the Merrickville health centre and Elaine 
Mason-Pankhurst is from the psychiatric hospital.

Ron Shore works at Street Health Kingston and John MacTavish travels to 
visit people with HIV/AIDS in the tri-counties. Mark Leslie and John Taylor 
are pharmacists.
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