CLALLAM: Needle exchange program touted by medical officials

A needle exchange program offered through Olympic Medical Center appears to be reducing the threat of AIDS and other diseases in Clallam County.

And any effort to reduce the threat of an AIDS or hepatitis-B epidemic is welcome news to Olympic medical officials.

“We’re trying to cut down on the number of hepatitis-B and HIV cases,” said Joyce Cardinal, OMC’s assistant administrator for nursing. “We believe this program will continue to help.”

Under the needle exchange program introduced last September in Port Angeles, drug-users can anonymously exchange used syringes for clean ones during a two-hour period on Monday nights an at undisclosed location near the medical center.

Efforts have been made to maintain a low-profile for the program and clients are not required to sign any papers or provide any specific information, Cardinal said.

“We don’t want to do anything to discourage them from coming back or other people from coming in,” Cardinal said. “The number of men is higher than the number of women.”

For the complete story see Thursday’s Peninsula Daily News, on sale in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

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