LAS VEGAS -- Nevada health officials announced last week that Las Vegas will be the first American city to dispense clean syringes -- free of charge -- through vending machines. The program, aimed at reducing the spread of such diseases as HIV and hepatitis C, will dispense a kit stocked with 10 syringes, tourniquet, disposal container (for used syringes), alcohol swabs and adhesive bandages. The kit includes information on where to get treatment for addiction.
According to local press reports, the program's pilot program involves three customized machines and is privately funded. The Southern Nevada Health District, Nevada AIDS Research and Education Society and Trac-B Exchange are administering the program and machines. To qualify for the program, users must register to obtain a swipe card and PIN that gives them twice-weekly access to the machines.
Dubbed a "harm reduction" approach, organizers hope to stem the tide of diseases that have cropped up in the wake of the recent opioid epidemic. The venders are scheduled to be fully operational by the end of May. Similar programs have proved effective in Australia, Europe and Puerto Rico.
FIRST IN NATION: Trac-B's Chelsi Cheatom demonstrates glassfront needle vending machine for the press corps. The "harm reduction" strategy is meant to reduce the spread of communicable diseases through shared needles.