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More than 1.5 million free needles given out in Ohio city

Officials say more than 1.5 million free needles have been handed out to 3,000 drug users in Columbus as health advocates work to stop the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases. (WKRC File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Officials say more than 1.5 million free needles have been handed out to 3,000 drug users in Columbus as health advocates work to stop the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the Safe Point syringe access program administered by Equitas Health has been busy since it began operating in January 2016 with its two centers at near capacity.

Advocates are seeking to prevent new HIV and hepatitis C infections spread by drug users sharing needles.

Participants can obtain 150 syringes every two weeks and are assessed on their needle use at each visit and whether they have access to naloxone, an opioid reversal drug used to treat overdose victims.

Many of Safe Point's clientele have been referred to drug and alcohol counseling.


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