What can be done about dangerous syringe litter?
There is a renewed effort to clean up a dangerous situation on Syracuse's west side. Last week, we showed you the left-over needles and syringes littering the streets. Today, we're with a crew to find out what's being done to fix the problem.
Marcus Jackson is watching his step while he's searching for syringes on the city's west side. Because there's so much syringe litter, ACR Health started the syringe exchange program three years ago to combat this growing problem.
Crews go out twice a week to do syringe sweeps. We were with Jackson and other group members as they scope out areas around town -- picking up needles that were left behind by injection users.
"Most of the people are not going to be out in the open or in residential areas using. So, around houses and homes and stuff like that, it might be difficult to find what you might consider a whole bunch," says Marcus Jackson, Outreach specialist at ACR Health.
And, their efforts don't stop there. ACR Health gives out sterile needles to users to prevent people from using dirty ones and spreading HIV and hepatitis C.
And, they encourage injection users to drop off their used needles.
"So, you have a huge population of injection drug users that are in Syracuse that are not accessing the service because of stigma they might receive, just the feeling that they might be persecuted," says Erin Bortel, Director of Prevention of Services at ACR Health.
The first step to dealing with this dirty problem, combating with the city's heroin epidemic which is sweeping cities across the country.
And, until we tackle that root issue first
we will continue to see syringe litter in the city.