Monday - September 5, 2016 12:59 am

Needle exchange more than a needle exchange

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Could AIDS Resource Center in La Crosse
be forced to move over controversy?

Despite public complaints in Wisconsin about drug syringes littering city streets, the needle exchange program run by one statewide group isn't likely to go away.

The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) has been offering new needles to drug users in the state for more than 20 years.

The La Crosse County heroin task force has been told that the Resource Center is being criticized by local residents for providing fresh needles to drug users, and it's possible that the office might be asked to leave the 5th on King building as a result.

"Folks in La Crosse have seen needles in spots," ARCW spokesman out of Milwaukee Bill Keeton said, "and I'm a parent, I've seen needles in spots where I wouldn't want to see needles."

Keeton says the agency offers services far beyond making drug needles available.

"To young folks who might be at risk, we do condom distribution, HIV testing, risk reduction education," he said. "The needle exchange is, of course, just one of the components of what we do.

"Our primary goal is to save people from HIV, Hep-C and also try to reduce and hopefully eliminate the number of potentially fatal opiate overdoes that occure, as well."

Keeton says the needle exchanges often are conducted with the cooperation of local health departments. The La Crosse fire dept. has expressed concern about the number of times it gets called out to pick up leftover needles.

Last modified on Monday - September 5, 2016 1:46 am
Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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