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Discarded needles growing concern in neighbourhoods near downtown

Discarded needles are a rising concern in some Grande Prairie neighbourhoods. HIV North and Alberta Health Services say it’s especially a problem for those near the downtown core.

The two organizations say they’re working to address the issue by educating residents about the safe disposal of needles and syringes and doing presentations on needle safety to children. Appropriate front line workers and Neighbourhood Eye volunteers are also given the means to dispose of any syringes they come across.

“Accidental needle stick injuries can transmit infectious diseases, especially blood-borne viruses,” explains
North Zone Medical Officer of Health Dr. Albert de Villiers. “Although risks of contracting Hepatitis C and HIV through needle stick injuries are quite low, it is important to take precautions.”

Those precautions include using tongs to pick up any syringes, with the needle end pointed away from your body. Put the needle tip down into a puncture-proof container on a sturdy surface, and bring it to HIV North Society.

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“Call your doctor or Health Link at 8-1-1 right away if you experience an accidental needle stick,” adds Dr.
de Villiers. “In some cases, medicine may be able to prevent infection. The sooner you start treatment
the more likely it is to work.”

If you find a needle that has been uncapped, don’t try to recap it. If you’re not comfortable handling a syringe, call HIV North at 780-538-3388 or text 780-832-8548 and they will try to collect it during business hours.

People who use syringes to inject insulin, medicine, steroids, or drugs have nine public disposal containers around the city they can use:

– north side of Shoppers Drug Mart
– Prairie Mall location
– north side of alley behind Better than Fred’s
– Rotary House parking lot
– parking lot south of the Industry bar
– Muskoseepi Park trail south of St. Paul’s United Church
– Salvation Army parking lot
– parking lot south of Islamic Centre
– parking lot at the Community Village
– Northern Addictions Centre

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