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Clients may have received used needles, Sudbury, Ont., harm reduction group says

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Anyone who received a single-use needle from Réseau ACCESS Network in Sudbury in the last several months is at risk of serious infection, the group announced Thursday.

In a news release, Réseau said at risk are about 40 people who received an individual single-use needle from in-reach services at 111 Larch St. unit 101 between July 1, 2022, and January 13, 2023.

“The agency, which distributes harm reduction supplies to people who use drugs, discovered the risk of exposure when a staff member found new and used equipment in a labelled clear container of individual single-use needles in the harm reduction room,” the news release said.

“The risk of potential exposure is limited to people who requested an individual needle. There is no risk to people who accessed full packages or other supplies.”

Heidi Eisenhauer, Réseau’s executive director, said those at risk have been told they were “potentially been exposed hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and to encourage testing and offer support to anyone who may need it.”

Réseau has offered testing to all people concerned, provided guidance to minimize risks of transmitting an infection to others while people wait for their results, and offered to help with connecting people to treatment options should they test positive for any of the three infections.

“Member safety and well-being is our top priority,” Eisenhauer said in the release.

“The practice of distributing individual needles has been discontinued until the agency can obtain individually packaged needles.”

In addition, Réseau, in collaboration with Public Health Sudbury & District, said it will be conducting a thorough investigation.

“Réseau ACCESS Network has reviewed best practices with all staff members,” the release said. 

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