Hyannis Needle Exchange Program Shut Down

DrugsHYANNIS – The town of Barnstable’s Health Division has ordered the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod to stop its needle exchange program run out of its location on South Street in Hyannis.

According to state law, needle exchange programs need local approval and the Barnstable Town Council has not approved the program, according to a September 23 letter from Barnstable Director of Public Health Tom McKean.

According to the letter, Barnstable Police sent a person into the agency on September 21 to request needles with the purpose of determining whether they were being distributed out of that location. The person was given needles and other items that the agency distributes for the purpose of stopping the spread of disease through intravenous drug use.

The next day, Barnstable Deputy Chief Matthew Sonnabend, accompanied by McKean, hand-delivered a cease and desist notice for the distribution of needles to an employee of the agency.

The letter states, “local approval shall be obtained prior to implementation of each pilot program in any city or town.” The state is limited to 10 needle distribution pilot programs.

On its website, AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod states that one of its services is “harm reduction” in order “to decrease the risk of acquiring or transmitting communicable infections such as HIV, viral hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections.”

Through its syringe exchange program, the agency “offers access to safer injection materials such as bleach kits, alcohol wipes, sterile water and other harm reduction supplies.”

The agency also states that it provides “bio-hazard sharps containers” to dispose of needles.

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