Vending machines dispensing free clean syringes will be positioned in 3 locations in central Las Vegas by the end of May, in an effort to curb the rising number of infectious disease cases caused by sharing syringes. 

As well as 10 syringes, the kits in the machines will also include a tourniquet, a disposal container for used syringes, alcohol swabs, adhesive bandages, safe sex supplies and addiction treatment information. Similar vending machines have been in use in Holland, Germany, Italy and Australia in some cases for as long as 10 years.

“The debate over whether syringe exchanges are beneficial has long been settled,” said Daniel Raymond of the Harm Reduction Coalition, speaking to NBC news. “The issue now is more, what method is appropriate for my community?”

The Harm Reduction Center Trac-B Exchange is running the program, in collaboration with the Southern Nevada Health District and the Nevada AIDS Research and Education Society. 

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“People are already exchanging in these behaviors, and anytime someone’s engaging in a behavior that could cause them some potential health side effects, we want to encourage them to reduce their risk of harm,” said Chelsi Cheatom of Trac-B Exchange.

To use the machines, users will need to register with Trac-B Exchange at which point they will be given a card and a unique code. Each card holder will be allowed a maximum of two kits per week and there is no requirement to enroll in a recovery program to gain access, however the machines will be in locations were recovery services are provided.

Congress reacted to the increase in infectious diseases due to needle sharing—emphasized by the outbreak of HIV cases in rural Indiana—by ending a 3-decade long ban on public funding for needle exchange programs last January. 

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