Orange County’s first and only needle-exchange program has shut down after Santa Ana city officials denied its permit application, sparking concerns from public health advocates.
City officials say the move was necessary because of an increased number of discarded syringes in the Santa Ana Civic Center, for which they blame the needle exchange.
Kyle Barbour, co-founder and board member of the Orange County Needle Exchange Program, said the nonprofit’s permit application was denied by the city in mid-January. The group, which operated in the Civic Center, is determining how to continue and says needle exchanges are a crucial public health service.
“People are going to die and get infectious diseases,” Barbour said. “There’s no ambiguity that needle exchanges are an effective strategy.”
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