The Lansing City Council voted Monday to approve a needle exchange program aimed at reducing the spread of HIV and other infections.
Drug paraphernalia is considered illegal under Michigan state law, except in the case of needle exchange programs. The council’s decision last night put the city ordinance in line with that state law.
Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail says the program will be carried out by a non-profit that has yet to be determined. People will be able to exchange their dirty needles for clean ones, no questions asked.
She says this is a proactive move, in the wake of the alarming opioid epidemic going on right now.
“Basically we don’t want to get caught off guard. The idea of putting this needle exchange program in place is so that we don’t become like Scott County, Indiana where all of a sudden you’re a fairly small county that rarely deals with a lot of HIV cases and you have 170 new HIV cases,” she says.
Vail says after the Indiana outbreak, the CDC identified counties across the country most at risk for HIV outbreaks, and approximately a dozen were in Michigan.
Some Michigan cities that already have needle-exchange programs are Grand Rapids, Flint, Detroit, and Ypsilanti.