- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - An Alaska organization that works to minimize the spread of HIV and Hepatitis says the number of people participating in its Syringe Exchange Program has grown this year.

The Alaska AIDS Assistance Association, also known as “Four As,” offers clean syringes to drug users for ones that have already been used.

“In our last complete fiscal year, we had 380,000 syringes distributed and so far this year with two months before the end of our fiscal year, we’ve already distributed 400,000 syringes,” said Laura Herman, director for development at Four As.

Four As said they serve about 70 new drug users each month.

“Our two most popular age groups are 20 to 29 year olds and 30 to 39 year olds account for about 70 percent of the age group of exchangers that come in,” said HIV Prevention & Education Coordinator Rebecca Morrissey.

Many drug users rely on the program for clean needles to keep them safe from life-threatening diseases. They can also receive tourniquets, cookers and cotton pads to filter out impurities in their drugs.

“We want to make sure they’re not suffering from lifelong diseases that will hamper their life after drugs,” Herman said.

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Information from: KTUU-TV, https://www.ktuu.com

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