Letter: Can we emulate Eastern Band’s syringe program?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Perfectly apropos is the cartoon by Brent Brown [“A Growing Concern”] in the Sept. 11 issue of Mountain Xpress! But what if we protected our community streets and property at least as much as we protect (or try to protect) out national forests?!

Check out what the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has done about syringe and hypodermic needles (still laughing, Brent!!) disposal with its magnificently successful and fully integrated Syringe Services Program: Syringe disposal kiosks placed all around the community. [See:] avl.mx/6jw and avl.mx/6jx.

Buncombe County and the city of Asheville are about to launch a pilot program using similar disposal kiosk units, which shall hopefully lead to a change in our overall behavior as it relates to proper sharps disposal — for any and everyone, even my grandmother who uses insulin syringes for her health. No stigma, no discrimination; just plain old public health standards where there is no fear about possessing hypodermic needles, especially on the way to the disposal kiosks around the city and county.

But will there be as many as in Cherokee? They are doing it the right way out there on the Qualla Boundary and in the Snowbird Community. Let’s try to emulate their program right here, right now. We can talk about safe injection facilities another time.

— Michael J. Harney Jr.
Co-founder, Needle Exchange Program of Asheville
(NEPA, est. 1994)
Asheville

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