A doctor has declared the once feared needle exchange program a success at the Shasta County Board of Supervisor’s meeting Tuesday.
County Health Officer Dr. Andrew Deckert reports on the Blood Borne Disease Prevention Project every two years.
The project allows intravenous drug users to exchange a dirty syringe for a clean syringe twice a week at Shasta Community Health Center’s Hope Van.
Many officials were concerned it would cause a rise in drug use, but Dr. Deckert said the only thing it’s done is significantly cut down on the spread of disease.
“We don’t advertise in any way, there’s no PSA, it’s all word of mouth,” Dr. Deckert said. “And the folks that need to know about it are learning about it and using it.”
In Shasta County alone, 5,000 people use one million needles, syringes, and lancets yearly.
80 percent of them use the needles for medical conditions like diabetes, but the other 20 percent are injection drug users.
The use of needles has increased. Information pulled from the Biennial Report on Blood-Borne Disease Prevention Program shows that 4,090 dirty needles were collected between 2007 and 2008. In 2012, however, almost 69,000 needles were collected.
Interestingly enough, diseases that can be transmitted by blood have gone down in Shasta County.
HIV has remained static, standing at about 10 cases a year.
Cases of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C have drastically declined.
There were 17 cases of Hepatitis B in 2007, just one case in 2013 and none in 2011 and 2012.
There were seven cases of Hepatitis C in 2008, and none in 2013.