Picking Up the Pieces

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), June 19, 2003 | Go to article overview

Picking Up the Pieces


Byline: Tim Christie The Register-Guard

The Sana Sisters made their inaugural sweep Wednesday.

Carisa Tremayne, development director for HIV Alliance, and agency intern Emily Graham-Berks donned work boots, latex gloves and orange safety vests and combed the weeds between the industrial section of the Whiteaker neighborhood and the railroad tracks.

They were looking for discarded syringes used by injection drug users.

Under the Chambers connector overpass, they found nearly a dozen syringes, some with needle intact, among broken bottles and assorted debris.

Graham-Berks, a University of Oregon student, used a grabber device to pick up the syringes and deposit them in a red hard plastic container.

The cleanup, using teams of volunteers, is an outgrowth of the HIV Alliance's 4-year-old Sana Needle Exchange program - Sana is Spanish for healthy.

It's intended to protect the health of homeless people who hang out in public parks and under overpasses, as well as the community at large, Tremayne said. It's also a form of outreach, she said.

"It's another opportunity to say, `Do you know about the needle exchange?' It's hard with high-risk populations to do successful outreach," she said.

HIV Alliance serves about 70 percent of the estimated 10,000 injection drug users in Lane County, and about 70 percent of those clients participate in the needle exchange, said Sharon Chamberlain, the agency's prevention manager.

But some clients don't want to carry around needles, and throw their gear in the street or bushes when they're done, she said.

"This is our extra effort to go out and make sure even those ones disposed of in the street or the parks or whatever, are picked up and not found unknowingly by some unsuspecting citizens," she said.

The needle exchange program recently got a boost in the form of $13,000 from United Way of Lane County to buy clean needles, supplies and biohazard boxes. …

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