Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jun 2006
Source: Courier-Islander (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Courier-Islander (Campbell River)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)
Bookmark: (Hepatitis)
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


The City of Courtenay, in partnership with the Vancouver Island 
Health Authority (VIHA) have installed publicly accessible Needle 
Disposal Boxes at the entrance to the Courtenay Riverway at 6th 
street and at Standard Park in Courtenay. The Needle Box program - a 
first on Vancouver Island - is intended to promote the safe disposal 
of used needles and other "sharps".

"Working in partnership with VIHA on this project is a big step to 
making our City a safer place" said Courtenay Mayor Starr Winchester.

"Improperly discarded hypodermic needles and other sharps pose a risk 
of injury and possible infection to unsuspecting workers, families 
and pets in their homes, workplaces and public areas," said Dr. 
Charmaine Enns, VIHA's Medical Health Officer.

"Our goal is to implement a program in Courtenay that is 
user-friendly and helps to ensure the safety of residents by 
providing an opportunity to safely discard needles," she added. "In 
the coming months, we will evaluate this program, which may lead to 
more needle boxes in other communities on Vancouver Island.

The specially designed needle disposal boxes allow material to be 
disposed of but not retrieved.

The City of Courtenay will provide regular pick-up and proper 
disposal of the sharps deposited in the Needle Boxes.

The project was championed by DJ Savin, whose seven-year-old son 
sustained a needle-poke injury last summer from a discarded needle he 
found in their curbside driveway.

"We've been under incredible stress regarding the health of our son," 
declared Savin. "He has endured a series of blood tests over the past 
ten months, and thankfully the final tests have come back negative. 
We want to make sure that another family never has to repeat our experience."

Savin encourages parents to talk to their kids about needle safety.

"I would like to see information given to children at the preschool 
level. They're already being taught not to play with matches, 
lighters, an axe or other dangerous articles so why not let them know 
not to touch an improperly discarded needle also?"

In 2004/05 approximately 6.38 million needles and syringes were 
exchanged in harm reduction strategies across the province. While the 
majority of needles used in the Comox Valley are disposed of safely, 
from time to time public workers and Valley residents encounter used 
needles. The needle boxes will provide an additional opportunity for 
safe disposal of used needles.


- - Ensure children understand they should never pick up needles.

- - If children find a discarded needle, they should notify an adult immediately.

- - Finding a used needle or syringe ('sharp') can be of concern. 
Although the risk of contracting an HIV infection is low, there is a 
chance that cuts or injuries caused by a used needle could result in 
Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, tetanus or similar infection.

Facts About Needles

- - In British Columbia, 6.83 million needles were exchanged in 2004 
through the BC Needle Exchange program.

- - Used needles require special handling and disposal in order to 
protect public health and the environment

- - There exists a low risk of exposure to disease as a result of 
contact with a contaminated sharp.

- - For the health and safety of our community and sanitation workers, 
never flush "sharps" down the toilet and never throw loose sharps in 
the garbage.

If sharps must be disposed of in your household garbage, make sure 
they are enclosed in secure, puncture proof containers.

Adults can safely dispose of needles themselves using the following 

1. Find a puncture proof container with a secure lid (a metal 
container such as coffee can or a sturdy plastic container like a 
bleach bottle).

2. Wear thick gloves (i.e. rubber or leather gardening gloves) when 
handling needles or syringes.

3. Take the container to the needle and avoid carrying used needles 
around. Pick up and hold the syringe by the base, not by the point of 
the needle.

4. Once you have placed the sharp in a puncture proof container, it 
can be disposed of in the garbage.

5. In the event of finding a number of needles please contact the 
AIDS Vancouver Island at 250-338-7400 (regular business hours).

If you are not comfortable handling or disposing of the needle 
yourself, please call AIDS Vancouver Island at 250-338-7400

Take it Back

Some pharmacies take back used needles along with expired 
medications. Some pharmacies will only accept needles and syringes 
contained in biomedical waste containers. Please contact your 
pharmacy to find out about any specific requirements for returning 
needles and syringes.

Needle Stick Injury

1. Do not panic! The risk of infection from a single needle stick 
injury is very low.

2. Allow the puncture site to bleed (but do NOT suck the wound). 
Apply gentle pressure around the puncture site to achieve this.

3. Wash the wound with soap under running water. Dry the wound and 
cover with a waterproof bandage.

4. Go the nearest hospital or health centre. A physician will assess 
the injury and possible risk of infection.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman