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Boulder County has first approved syringe exchange program in state

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boulder County – On May 9, 2011, the Boulder County Board of Health passed a resolution approving the Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) syringe exchange program - making the program the first approved syringe exchange program in Colorado. 
In 2010, Colorado lawmakers created an exemption in Colorado’s drug paraphernalia law allowing counties to adopt syringe exchange programs through a local approval process. 

“We have known for over 20 years that providing access to clean syringes and encouraging testing and treatment is one of the most effective evidence-based practices to stop the spread of infectious diseases,” said Jeff Zayach, BCPH Executive Director.

“Study after study has found that syringe access programming helps reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases without encouraging or increasing drug use. In fact, this type of programming provides opportunities to reduce drug use.”

In March 1989, only eight years after the first cases of HIV were identified, the Boulder County Public Health HIV/STI Outreach Program started the Works Program, a comprehensive needle exchange, treatment, and harm reduction program – making Boulder the third city in the United States to offer syringe access programming for drug users.

Since then, collaboration between local law enforcement, the Boulder County district attorney’s office, and BCPH has helped to reduce the spread of infectious disease, keep needles off our streets and out of our waterways, increased testing for HIV/AIDS, and increased treatment among injecting drug users.

“It has been a very long time coming, but we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to operate under full legal protection, not just at a local level, but at a state level as well,” said Carol Helwig, BCPH HIV/STI Outreach Program Coordinator.

“When we legitimize the services that prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and ultimately link people to the resources they need to lead a healthier life, we are a little bit closer to social justice for the most marginalized among us.”

For more information, contact Carol Helwig at 303.413.7522 or visit

Chana Goussetis
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Boulder County Public Health

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