LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It’s an interesting concept and one that can be controversial,
Public health vending machines which are designed to stop infections among IV drug users.
Nevada is the first state in the U.S. to implement them back in 2017.
The machines not only offer clean syringes but several other health kits to minimize the risk of disease and infection.
8 News Now spoke to officials with the program behind the vending machines who shared how they are benefitting the community.
Jessica Johnson, senior health educator with the Southern Nevada Health District said with the increase in fatal overdoses in Clark County, she has seen the positive effects these machines can have.
“We measured the impact of the naloxone being distributed from these vending machines and on our overdose rate and are able to see a reduction,” she said. “These vending machines stand on the shoulders of 40 years of research and the syringe services programs that look at the positive benefits of these types of programs that help to reduce someone’s substance use and help get them connected with care.”
From syringe kits, with clean needles to hormone kits for hormone therapy, first aid, and safe sex kits the machines provide a variety of harm-reduction products geared toward people who use drugs.
One of the biggest items offered is naloxone, an opioid medication that can help reverse an overdose.
“When I was in my heyday of using this wasn’t an option so If we wanted syringes to use, we would have to go to a pharmacy and get lucky,” Spencer Costella told 8 News Now after talking about the lengths he would go to get high.
He added that he is eight years clean and now a peer recovery support specialist.
Those interested can sign up either online or in person at the health district or any other locations across the valley.
Those interested will then receive an identifying number and a swipe card and then once approved will be able to access any of the five vending machines across the valley.
The five active machines in Las Vegas see an average of about 500 transactions a month.
It is no cost to those that use them, and it is federal, state, local, and private dollars that help fund these vending machines.
Once all the syringes are used, people can store them in the sharps container to drop them off in the red biohazard sharp bin. This prevents any cross-contamination.
The bins are located at all the locations listed below.
Public health vending machine locations
- The Center
- Huntridge Family Clinic
- Southern Nevada Health District
- Center for Behavioral Health (Cheyenne)
- Center for Behavioral Health (Desert Inn)
The future plan is to add three additional machines this year and specifically in the east valley where officials said they are needed.