Only Drop-In Needle Exchange Center In Minnesota Closes Due To Lack Of Funding
Minnesota's only storefront needle exchange drop-in center, called Access Works!, "fell victim to economic hard times and federal anti-drug policies" and ended its program last week after 13 years, the Minnesota Independent reports. The program "traded used needles for clean ones, conducted HIV and Hepatitis C testing, taught overdose prevention, held support groups and connected users with chemical dependency treatment experts," according to the Independent. Federal funding cannot be used to administer needles for such programs, Lauri Wollner, executive director of the program said. She added, "The federal ban has had a long-term impact. We spend almost $40,000 a year on needles and about $5,000 a year on disposal (of used needles)." Private donations also have been down, she said. While the ban on the use of federal funding for needle exchange is being revisited by Congress, "local needle-exchange activists say it is doubtful that congressional action will be able to save the struggling organization," the article states (Birkey, 8/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.