By Fred Halstied

LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – It’s not your typical vending machine, where you put a few quarters or a dollar in, and your soda or candy bar slides out. There’s also a good chance that with this vending machine, your product won’t get stuck in those little coils.

This unique vending machine dispensing hypodermic needles is designed to reduce the transmission of blood borne infections and their related health complications to people who share needs.

The Southern Nevada Health District and Trac-B Exchange along with the Nevada AIDS Research and Education Society (NARES), launched Southern Nevada’s first needle exchange program, including a delivery component brand new to United States vending machines.

“Needle exchange programs are model public health programs. It starts with providing a clean needle and syringe to one person. However, we know one in 10 HIV diagnoses happen in people who inject drugs. Providing clean needles and supplies is a proven method for limiting disease transmission in a community,” said Dr. Joe Iser, Chief Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District.

“We also know that providing supplies to individual clients, the goal of our program is to improve the health and well-being of people affected by drug use by increasing their access to health care, providing them with education, and reducing the risk of harm to others in our areas,” Iser said.

The implementation of the needle exchange program and vending machine pilot program is the result of efforts by the Health District, the Harm Reduction Center LV and Trac-B Exchange in collaboration with NARES. People using the new needle exchange vending machines are required to register at Trac-B Exchanges, as well as with the community partners who are contracted with Trac-B to provide services.

Injection drug use continues to be a common infection source for newly diagnosed HIV patients. In Clark County, it’s estimated that about 9-percent of new HIV diagnoses happen among people who inject drugs. Sharing needles increases the risk of HIV infection as well as infection with other blood borne illnesses like hepatitis B and C.

The Southern Nevada Health District along with NARES is hoping the vending machine will over time cut down those numbers.

There is currently a machine at NARES, located at Charleston and Jones.


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