Ohio City Hands Out 1.5 Million Needles to Drug Abusers

A number of syringes are seen in the remains of a tent city being cleared by city workers along Division Street Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in San Francisco. Homeless people have until the end of Friday to vacate a rambling tent city along a busy San Francisco street declared a …
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

The city of Columbus, Ohio, handed out 1.5 million free needles to drug abusers as a way to stop HIV and infectious diseases.

The city told the Columbus Dispatch that their Safe Point syringe access program gave out the needles to 3,000 people in Columbus since January 2016.

The program is administered through Equitas Health, a non-profit healthcare system that caters to LGBTQ individuals.

A spokesperson for the program said that two distribution centers in the city have been open for 10.5 hours a week to hand out the needles, and both have been at capacity.

The Dispatch reports that the money for this program comes from Equitas Health’s discretionary funding, although the city pays for the opioid overdose drug naloxone and contributes $50,000 to cover Safe Point staff costs.

Supporters of the program say that the distribution of needles would prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C infections passed through drug users sharing needles.

Program participants can get up to 150 syringes every two weeks, and medical professionals take into account participants’ needle use and access to naloxone at each visit, according to the Associated Press.

The Safe Point access program is a global charity headquartered in the United Kingdom that calls for sterile and safe injections.

.