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Did Florida’s first needle exchange programme result in fewer items of used injecting equipment being left in public places? The answer comes from a walkthrough of Miami neighbourhoods and interviews with people who inject drugs before and after the programme opened its doors.
A major concern about needle exchanges is that after use the injecting equipment they supply will be left unsafely disfiguring public areas, but this US study based on a comparison between San Francisco (has legal exchanges) and Miami (exchanges illegal) strongly suggests the opposite.
Until June 2008 Victoria in Canada had a comprehensive extended hours needle exchange at a fixed site in the city. Neighbourhood pressure led to closure, creating a natural experiment in the withdrawal of services. The result seemed to be more sharing of injecting equipment entailing a greater risk of infection.
What happens when city authorities ask retail and service premises to host syringe disposal bins in their toilets? There were misgivings, but when the bins meant customers and staff could avoid discarded syringes, they were welcomed and retained, safely disposing of over 2000 syringes a month.