In the Spring of 2017, Southern Nevada began its first comprehensive harm reduction needle exchange program, also known as Syringe Service Programs (SSPs), ‘Impact Exchange.’ This followed the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 410, which decriminalized needles, and similar programs in Northern Nevada. Syringe vending machines have been used as an infectious disease intervention with PWID (People Who Inject Drugs) in Europe and Australia, among others, for over a decade. “The prescription opioid and heroin epidemics are devastating families and communities throughout the nation, and the potential for new HIV outbreaks is of growing concern. Our goal is for people to live long enough to stop substance use and not contract HIV or other serious infections while injecting – SSPs can help people accomplish both.” – Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Proponents of the bill argued that needle exchange programs would greatly reduce Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV risk among PWID. According to estimates from the CDC National Prevention Information Network, the lifetime cost of care for Hepatitis C is $500,000, and the lifetime cost of care for HIV begins at $355,000.
In Clark County, it is estimated that about 9% of new HIV diagnoses occur among PWID. The practice of sharing needles is higher among younger PWID, and recent statistics show that the percentage of Whites who are starting to use injection drugs has increased by 114%. According to the CDC, in 2015, just one in four injection drug users reported receiving their injection supplies from sterile sources. Nationally, up to 70% of Hepatitis C infections are contracted through injection drug use.
The program, which involves a needle exchange program and pilot vending machine program, is the result of a partnership between Southern Nevada Health District, Harm Reduction Center- Las Vegas, and the Nevada Aids Research and Education Society (NARES). People using the needle exchange vending machines are required to register at Trac-B Exchange, as well as with Trac-B Exchange’s service providers. Community members may receive up to two boxes per week. Each box contains items needed to reduce the risk of bloodborne infections.
In addition to providing PWID with access to sterile needles and syringes, and facilitating the safe disposal of used needles and syringes, this program opens the door to other types of services and care for community members.
Says Brandon Delise, an Epidemiologist with Southern Nevada Health District, “Each year since 2008, more Clark County residents have died from opioid overdoses than from firearms or motor vehicle traffic accidents. Additionally, Clark County has seen a rise in rate of fatal fentanyl overdoses from 2015 to 2016 but a decrease in rate of fatal prescription opioid overdoses during the same time period. Preventive and harm reduction programs, like syringe vending machines, have been integral in responding to the opioid epidemic by allowing people to protect themselves against blood-borne pathogens through the distribution of both disease prevention items and critical information about infectious diseases. For further details, please refer to the Nevada Online Opioid Dashboard (https://opioid.snhd.org/).”
Following are the hours of Trac-B Exchange:
Monday: 12 pm-4 pm
Tuesday: 2 pm-6 pm
Wednesday: 10 am-2 pm
Thursday: 2 pm-6 pm
Needle exchange vending machines are available at Trac-B Exchange’s location, found at 6114 West Charleston Blvd. Each Wednesday, HIV and Hepatitis C testing is available at Trac-B Exchange from 10 am- 2pm.
For more information, contact Trac-B at (702) 840-6693 or visit www.HarmReductionCenterLV.com.
Additional locations for the needle exchange programs:
Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN)
1120 Almond Tree Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89104
(702) 382-2326 option2
Community members may access the vending machine twice in a 7 day period and must register with AFAN if not already registered with Huntridge Family Clinic or Trac-B. The vending machine is available during business hours of Monday –Friday from 8 am-5 pm.
Free rapid HIV testing is offered via an appointment made over the phone or on a walk-in basis. Testing stops at 4:30 pm.
Huntridge Family Clinic
1830 East Sahara Ave.
Available Monday-Friday from 9 am-5 pm. Community members need an ID to register and receive a vending machine card. The card you receive upon registration cannot be used until the next day.
Free rapid HIV testing available 9 am-11 am and 1 pm-4 pm.
To find out about upcoming trainings on Harm Reduction, contact Brandon Delise, Southern Nevada Health District, at delise@SNHD.ORG.