Louisiana Considering Statewide Needle Exchange for Drug Users
Last year, New Orleans and Baton Rouge initiated a needle exchange program for drug users in an effort to fight the epidemic of HIV/AIDS epidemic and prevent overdoses. If a new bill proposed by Democratic Representative Ted James of Baton Rouge is passed, this tax-payer funded program would serve every city in the state.
The bill would make it easy for drug-users to trade in used and possibly infected needles for clean and sterile needles. The needle exchange site would then dispose of the hazardous medical waste (used needles) properly. Otherwise, these dirty needles could end up as litter on the side of the road, in a park, or tons of other places that would make them a very dangerous health hazard.
The program would also supply naloxone kits in case of overdose, test strips so users can see if their drugs are tainted with the powerful pain killer Fentanyl (a leading cause in overdoses), and a provision that would protect health care workers who may be caught by police with dirty needles that may have drug residue.
House Bill 661 has already received preliminary approval, and go to a vote by the Louisiana State Legislature on April 5th.