Needle exchange program participation triples

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The number of people participating in a needle exchange program in Saint Johnsbury has tripled this year.

Nine people were served by the program in the first quarter of 2006. Seven of the nine were new participants.

Officials say the increase is due to more people becoming aware of the program through word of mouth and an outreach effort in which volunteers visit homes to deliver new needles.

In the first months of 2006, 2,118 needles were turned in and 2,900 were given out.

That compares to 681 needles collected and 22 handed out in the last months of 2005.

The needle exchange program was started in 2002 to prevent the spread of diseases through intravenous drug use.

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