Grand Jury Recommends Needle Exchange Program in Stanislaus County, Calif., To Reduce Cases of HIV, Hepatitis C
A civil grand jury last week recommended that Stanislaus County, California, create a needle exchange program to decrease the number of hepatitis C and HIV infections, the Modesto Bee reports. According to the grand jury report, the county is on pace to record 620 new hepatitis C cases this year, up from 519 in 2007. According to the grand jury, a needle exchange program could reduce the number of infections and help diminish the threat to public employees who come into contact with discarded syringes.
"Both the public health and law enforcement approaches can coexist with the common goal of harm reduction in Stanislaus County ... by providing new syringes to injection drug users in exchange for dirty syringes," the grand jury wrote. The grand jury recommended that the county follow the guidelines of a 2006 state law, which clarifyed the use of public funds in the creation of needle exchange programs.
Stanislaus County in 2002 formed a committee to study hepatitis C, and in 2006, the county's police chiefs wrote in a letter that "there may be merit in a needle exchange program" (Ashton, Modesto Bee, 7/2).