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Free syringe exchange plan loses momentum at Livingston Parish council meeting

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LIVINGSTON PARISH - A controversial program for people addicted to drugs did not make it past Thursday night's council meeting.

A private company's proposal to open a free syringe exchange program in the area that would allows drug users to swap out used needles for new ones was tabled with no future date set.

The plan would have provide a pack of hypodermic syringes for $6, a price some say could be the difference between life or death.

"If you are sharing syringes and needles it is very dangerous," said Dr. Orlando Palmer. 

The pharmacist says it is common for intravenous users to share syringes instead of buying new ones.

"If they are looking to use funds on another source,  they don't want to use the money to buy needles at a local pharmacy," Palmer said.

Palmer says every time they do, it becomes a dangerous game of Russian Roulette with diseases.

"Because that blood in those needles could contain HIV, Hepatitis C." 

Diseases in which the parish has seen an uptick in. It also ranks as one of the highest levels in Louisiana for Hepatitis A. Citizens were invited to the meeting to share their thoughts about the proposal.

Livingston Parish council member Shane Mack supports the plan to allow a private federally-funded syringe exchange program that wants to operate in the parish. 

"To me, this is a good program to prevent the spread of hazardous disease to the people we care about in Livingston parish." 


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