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Needle exchange coming to Reno soon


A non-profit announced its plans yesterday to start a syringe exchange programs in Reno. KUNR's Michelle Bliss reports legislation signed by Governor Brian Sandoval this month now makes that legal. The law decriminalizes syringes, so they are no longer considered illegal drug paraphernalia. The change will allow for non-prescription syringe sales and needle exchange programs for I-V drug users. Sharon Chamberlain is CEO of Northern Nevada HOPES, a nonprofit community health center in downtown Reno planning to open an exchange program."What we will do is provide sterile syringes and collect used syringes to reduce transmission of HIV, viral hepatitis, and other blood-born infections associated with the reuse of contaminated injection equipment by drug users." Chamberlain says addicts exchanging their needles will be linked to the organization's other services, including primary medical care, HIV testing, and substance abuse treatment."When they are ready and able to stop using injection drugs, they'll have somebody that they can turn to that they already have a relationship with and have developed trust with and say, 'Hey, I'm ready to stop.' And we can say, 'Well, we're right here.'" Nevada joins 37 other states that have already decriminalized syringes.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.