Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jan 2018
Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Copyright: 2018 Orlando Sentinel
Author: Christine Sexton


TALLAHASSEE -- Two years after lawmakers approved a needle-and-syringe
exchange program in Miami-Dade County, the House and Senate are
considering taking it statewide and expanding the types of providers
who can offer the services.

House and Senate health care-panels on Wednesday approved bills that
would allow hospitals, clinics, medical schools and substance-abuse
treatment programs to begin offering needle-and-syringe exchange
programs to try to reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV, which
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated cost nearly
$380,000 to treat over a lifetime.

The House Health Quality Subcommittee tagged on an amendment to HB 579
that makes clear the Florida Department of Health wouldn't "establish"
the programs and only would be informed when they are created.

Senate bill sponsor Oscar Braynon, D-Miami, said he wanted to talk to
the health department about the amendment before he decides whether to
include it in his version (SB 800).

The bills would expand the initial "Infectious Disease Elimination
Act" or IDEA, which was passed by the Legislature in 2016 and
authorized the University of Miami to operate a needle-and-syringe
exchange pilot program in Miami-Dade.

The pilot program offers free, clean, unused needles and syringes to
intravenous drug users as a way to prevent the transmission of
hepatitis B and C as well as human immunodeficiency virus. No state
money can be used to help fund the program, and the university must
keep records of what it has accomplished.

Between Dec. 1, 2016 and July 31, 2017, the program provided 44,497
clean, unused syringes in exchange for 50,509 used syringes.
Initially, the program was offered at a fixed location, but it began
providing what it calls 'backpacking" services, offered by people on
foot, in May.

The university reports that since the program's inception, 43 people
have been referred for substance-abuse treatment; 266 people have been
given HIV or hepatitis C tests; nine people have been referred for HIV
treatment; 35 have been referred for hepatitis C treatment; and 251
doses of naloxone have been given to program participants and their
family members, resulting in 73 overdose reversals.
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