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The science and research behind the needle distribution program

Butte County Health Officials share the facts behind why they support the program that's raising concern for some in Chico.

Posted: Jan 30, 2020 5:47 PM
Updated: Jan 30, 2020 5:55 PM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - Butte County Health Officials share the facts behind why they support the program that's raising concern for some in Chico.

Endocarditis is a bacteria-related heart valve infection. Rates are increasing in our county among younger people.

Butte County public health officials say that the syringe service program could help to stop that spread.

"Public health supports syringe access programs because its science-based," Director of Public Health Danette York said. "What science has shown us for public health specifically is that it's very helpful in protecting the community against diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis-C."

"Syringe service programs are associated with approx 50 percent reduction in HIV/Hep-c incidents," Hambley said.

Action News Now reached out to the Northern Valley Harm Reduction Coalition and spoke with Marin Hambley, the HIV/Hep-C test counselor over the phone.

"I'm really honestly glad this conversation and awareness is increasing that the problem of not having safe access to disposal has been a problem in our community for a long long time and I'm happy that people are engaging and noticing this huge huge need," Hambley said.

Action News Now asked York what she'd say to people who are concerned about this program.

"I would just say the syringe litter was there before the syringe access program was available and I'm sure there will be some there afterward too," York said.

Over the last 8 months, volunteers have picked up over 7,000 needles and even thousands more every weekend.

"And since our program started there's been a huge decline in the amount that volunteers park rangers creek cleanups are finding," Hambley said.

York says people who inject drugs are 34 times more likely to dispose of the needles properly if they have access to a program like this.

"Public health is available for any groups or organizations that need some data or information on it we are happy to come out and do a presentation on it," York said.

"Let's transform concern into access and more programs the more we support and we meet people where they're at the stronger out whole community is," Hambley said.

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