The California Department of Public Health approved a widely opposed mobile needle exchange program this week.
The Orange County Needle Exchange Program will operate for two years starting Monday, Aug. 6, according to the department.
According to supporters, the program helps reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, and are some of the only ways drug users have contact with health care professionals.
Four main cities affected by this new program: Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Orange and Santa Ana all posed objections and state health officials responded by limiting the times it could operate to three- or four-hour blocks on two days a week in each city.
Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do said he might seek legal action to block the program.
Do said in a written statement,
“Needle programs like this are a proven failure for the neighborhoods that have to live with their impact, which tend to be lower-income areas.”
“Drug needles end up in public libraries, parks and on sidewalks and jeopardize the health and safety of our children,” he said. “What is most offensive about these needle exchange programs is they seek to subvert local interests and ignore city restrictions by (going to) Sacramento bureaucrats who don’t have to face the consequences of their decisions.”
The state will also reportedly require the mobile program operators to work with county health officials to offer more used needle disposal kiosks, a hotline to call about found needles or other concerns, and more clean-ups of syringe waste in the communities they serve.
Listen to the mayor of Costa Mesa talk about the program below,
Photo: Getty Images