Health board lifts restrictions on needle exchange locations in city

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The Allegheny County Board of Health unanimously passed a motion that will lift location restrictions for needle exchange programs within the city of Pittsburgh.

The previous regulation banned needle exchanges within 1,500 feet of schools, daycare centers and drug treatment centers. But that proved far too restrictive for the densely populated city of Pittsburgh, where needle exchanges would have few places to operate.

The motion passed today would lift that restriction, though city council would still have to approve new needle exchange locations.

The location restriction remains the same in the rest of the county.

Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker pointed out that 15 of the 17 deaths linked to a batch of fentanyl-tainted heroin were in the city. The exchanges provide clean needles for intravenous drug users who might otherwise be exposed to hepatitis, HIV and other diseases.

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