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Could needle exchange pilot program expand to Palm Beach County?

Posted at 7:12 PM, Aug 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-29 22:57:07-04

Fighting the opioid epidemic is a major priority for the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners, who set their 2018 legislative agenda Tuesday.

One item on that agenda is the possibility of a needle exchange program in Palm Beach County.

Given the severity of the opioid epidemic in Palm Beach County, commissioners want to take action to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.

The commissioners are asking the state to expand a needle exchange pilot program that is already going on in Miami-Dade County. They want the pilot program expanded to include Palm Beach County.

According to Vice Mayor Melissa McKinlay, Palm Beach County has more overdose deaths than Miami-Dade,
and she says any drugs that involves needles carries the risk of spreading very serious diseases.

“Anytime we can try to reduce the harmful effects of drug use and prevent HIV cases and prevent hepatitis cases, that’s a good thing for our community and that’s why we're asking the legislature to give us permission to do that,” said McKinlay.

According to the Palm Beach County Health Department, they have not seen a rise in these diseases connected to the opioid issue so far.