Calls for needle vending machines in Melbourne

Consumers of illicit drugs may be able to deposit used syringes and needles in vending machines on a trial basis. The plan, put forward by Yarra Health and Drug Forum, would see syringes and needles accessible as well as safe disposal units.Greg Denham, chief executive of Yarra Health and Drug Forum, told SYN’s Represent: “Having access to needles and syringes after hours or during times when the needle and syringe program isn’t operating is quite critical.“Currently we have thousands of needles and syringes handed out and recovered each month, so it’s something in the vicinity of 1500 alone in North Richmond.“You can see by those numbers, we have a significant demand there.”Represent’s panel of experts for this week, Melbourne City Council’s Richard Foster and Tom Carins from the University of Melbourne Medical Students’ Society, both support the idea.There have been needle exchange programs in many places in Australia, Mr Carins said.“The evidence that I’ve seen shows that that decreases the rate of infections, both HIV and hepatitis C in particular.“So long as these needle vending machines are put in the right places I can’t see that this would be a problem.”Drug Free Australia executive officer Jo Baxter criticised the move, saying poor placement of machines could lead to children experimenting.Syringe Helpline: 1800 552 355Youth Substance Abuse Service: 1800 014 446Listen to Represent’s special health episode here.Cameron Magusic

January 13th 2014
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