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Palm Beach County looking to start needle exchange program

Posted: 5:12 AM, Jun 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-02 16:07:07-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Palm Beach County could become the second county in the state to start a needle exchange program.

County officials are waiting for Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign a bill giving counties the greenlight. Miami-Dade County started a successful pilot program more than two years ago.

Advocates say needle exchange programs reduce HIV transmission. The programs also give out sterile equipment used in drug injection to prevent hepatitis C. Some also administer naloxone to help stop accidental overdose deaths. More than 8,400 people in Palm Beach County live with HIV.

The Palm Beach Post reports 447 people died of an accidental drug overdose in the county last year.

Critics say needle exchange programs encourage the use of syringes among drug users.

But the Miami-Dade program reported it has received 331,093 dirty needles and given out 317,979 clean ones. More than 13,000 dirty syringes were taken off the streets.