Vending machines dispensing clean needles are coming to Las Vegas

Chelsi Cheatom, the program manager at Trac-B Exchange, demonstrates how the vending machines will work at a recent news conference.
Image: southern nevada health district

Las Vegas is about to set up vending machines to dispense clean needles, free of charge.

The machines will be designed to make equipment more readily available for intravenous drug users, who can pass various infections to each other if they use the same needles.

The project will make Vegas the first place in the country to offer such a service.

The machines will soon pop up around Las Vegas, but anyone who wants to use them will first have to register to get a card they can swipe, according to theLas Vegas Review-Journal. The cards will have an ID number that allows each user to get up to two packs of needles per week, but those who want to register won’t have to give up personal information to do so.

The machines will dole out packages of 10 needles (or syringes), along with a disposing container, bandages, addiction treatment pamphlets, a tourniquet and alcohol swabs, according to CBS News. The city also plans to use the machines to distribute packages providing materials for safe sex.

This strategy is what’s known as “harm reduction.” Health officials recognize that they’d prefer to eliminate the use of drugs such as heroin, but if it’s going to happen, providing clean equipment can reduce the diseases that are often passed among users who don’t have access to sterilized syringes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently found that 10 percent of new AIDS diagnoses in 2015 came about due to injection.

The vending machines will be run by a coalition of Nevada AIDS Research and Education Society, Southern Nevada Health District, and Trac-B Exchange.

Look for them in late May.

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