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Vending machines to supply clean needles for Clark County drug users

Needles from a vending machine? It's the latest move by the Southern Nevada Health District to fight infections like HIV passed by dirty needles. 4/12/17 (Faith Jessie | KSNV)

The Southern Nevada Health District is making sure people have access to clean needles to reduce the risk of spreading diseases.

Three new needle exchange vending machines are being installed to give drug users access to clean needles.

Once users register with the program, they'll be given a card and a unique identifier code to access the vending machines.

In addition to clean needles, the vending machines also have kits for syringe disposal, wound care and safe sex.

The health district estimates that about 9 percent of new HIV diagnoses in Clark County are people who inject drugs.

The CDC says 1 in 10 people with HIV inject drugs. In 2015 only 1 in 4 people who inject drugs got all of their syringes from a clean source.

"This is a harm reduction approach. So people are already engaging in these behaviors so anytime someone is engaging in behavior could cause them some potential health side effects, we want them to reduce the risk of harm," said Chelsi Cheatom, Program Manager Trac B Exchange. “By providing them with clean syringes as well as other clean instruments they can use, they are reducing the risk of sharing any items and they are also reducing the risk of reusing."

Program organizers say drug users are not required to stop using or enroll in a recovery program to use the machines.

The machines will be located at Trac B Exchange, Aid for AIDS Nevada (AFAN) and the Community Counseling Center. All offer recovery services, education, and counseling for those who are looking for help.

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