PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo County is seeing a decrease in HIV and Hepatitis cases and the Department of Heath says it's because of a needle exchange program.
El Paso County is considering the program to prevent the spread of disease among drug addicts who tend to re-use and share needles amongst each other. El Paso County officials are now debating if they will adopt the program.
One of the volunteers for the program, Dr. Michael Nerenberg says dozens of residents, sometimes more than a hundred, show up every Tuesday and Saturday to turn in their used needles. "We give them syringes, and we also give them cookers, cotton, tourniquets, alcohol swabs and sterile water," says Nerenberg.
The program has received some criticism by residents saying it enables drug users, which is one of the worries for El Paso county officials. However, Nerenberg says there is no stopping these addicts. No matter what, they will find needles and use them. "They are already able, they know how, they are not asking us for permission," says Nerenberg, "They will be getting needles and it would be better for all concerned, them and us, if they got clean needles."
El Paso county officials say they will make their final decision on the program next week.