BRADENTON, Fla. — The Manatee County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the Infectious Disease Elimination Program, more commonly known as a syringe exchange program.

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  • First county to do so in the Tampa Bay area
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Syringe exchange programs are designed to cut down on the spread of diseases among drug users by replacing their used syringes with clean ones.

State legislation signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis back in June allows each county the option to authorize sterile needle and syringe exchange programs as long as state, county, or municipal funds are not used to operate the program.

To make a syringe exchange program a reality in Manatee County, the program would have to be run out of a facility willing to fund the program through grants and donations from private resources.



The idea is that during the needle exchange, the drug user will have one-on-one time with a health care provider and receive referrals for drug treatments programs, as well as medical care and treatment. During the exchange, they can also receive vaccinations for HIV, viral hepatitis and even Naloxone in the case of an overdose.

As outlined in the ordinance, the program would be completely anonymous and free of cost. 

“This allows them to go some place in a health environment,” explained Joshua Barnett, Health Care Services Manager for the county. “They also get counseling, referrals, and other healthcare services.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a syringe exchange program can provide an average return on investment of $7.58 for every $1 spent.

Manatee County is the first county in the Tampa Bay area to approve this type of program. They plan to model it after a pilot program in Miami-Dade that has been in operation for the past three years.