Syringe Exchange Featured by NC Health News

Categories: Syringe Access

From the stereotypes and stigma that shadow our exchange participants, to the very real issue of supply shortages and extreme demand, read what North Carolina Health News had to say about our very own syringe exchange:


In 2016, the legislature made it legal for groups to run needle exchanges. Less than a year later, dozens of locations around the state are supplying clean needles and syringes to prevent the spread of disease.

The face of the North Carolina heroin epidemic is more diverse than one might think.

“People drive in nice cars and dress professionally,” said Michael Harney, street outreach worker and prevention educator at Western NC AIDS Project in Asheville, which is home to one of 22 needle exchanges in the state.

He described some of his clients and said it’s not always “the bedraggled, homeless or poor” that many people picture.

“Sometimes they come in uniforms and forget the label is on it. They come in scrubs… I’ve seen people in here on canes. Some speak different languages,” he said. “You just don’t know. I mean anybody. You would be surprised.”

Located just south of the Asheville Mall, Harney’s needle exchange is in a beige square office building with blue awnings and a long handicap ramp in front in a mostly residential area. Inside, the walls are covered with flyers and brochures advertising addiction support groups, treatment centers and crisis numbers. Two metal storage lockers contain boxes of syringes, condoms, more brochures and a place for laundry detergent bottles full of dirty needles.

In 2016 – the year programs finally became legal –  the program provided 512,150 needles to people coming from 32 counties in four states. If the facility were fully funded, exchange workers say they could have given out closer to a million…


Get the full article here.


The back of Western NC AIDS Project worker Michael Harney’s truck is often filled with empty detergent bottles donated by the local laundry mat for the disposal of dirty needles. Photo credit: Taylor Knopf

Author: Lucy Doyle

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