Needle Exchange Programs Might Be Legal, But Local Nonprofits are Scrambling to Fund Them
Needle exchange programs will be legal in Florida starting July 1 after Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Infectious Disease Elimination Act into law this week.
But Orange County nonprofits need to come up with their own money to fund the exchanges.
The new law prohibits the use of state or federal money to fund the programs that offer people clean needles in exchange for used ones.
Adam Troy with Hope and Help, a nonprofit that offers HIV testing in Orlando, says they’re looking for donations to start their exchange.
“A large part of it is securing private funding at least in these initial steps until we have some folks who might offer some more leadership on the municipal level.”
Troy says it could cost about $100,000 dollars to set up a needle exchange.
Interim Orange County Department of Health Director Dr. Raul Pino says that’s because exchanges aren’t just a place for people to swap out used needles but to get tested for hepatitis and HIV.
Sites also provide NARCAN-an opioid antidote that can reverse drug overdoses.
“You are there with the individual in the natural environment for the most part. Accepting them where they are where they feel more comfortable. And after you build that trust with individuals they are more likely to share and for you to be able to influence the behavior and to be ready for intervention when needed.”
The Orange County Commission will have to vote to approve needle exchange programs before hospitals, clinics, and nonprofits can offer them.
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