Rocky Mountain Collegian (CO State University) (12.12.11) -
Following three reportedly heroin-related deaths within a
month in Fort Collins recently, advocates there contend that
the realities of drug use warrant a local syringe-exchange
program. In 2010, Colorado passed a law authorizing counties
to legally adopt SEPs.
Boulder now has a legal SEP, and Denver is following suit.
Larimer County was expected to become the next logical site,
but advocates say public discussion on an SEP is almost non-
"We need approval from the local board of health, and we have
been hosting these conversations since July," said Jeff
Basinger, executive director of the Northern Colorado AIDS
Project (NCAP), which leads a coalition in support of SEPs.
"We've met three times and provided them with information."
Pivotal to Boulder County's approval was support from the
local district attorney, law enforcement and a "very
progressive" court system interested in taking a public health
approach to drug offenses, said Carol Helwig, the county's
HIV/STI outreach coordinator. "After the change in law it
takes a long time to build stakeholder support and to get all
of your ducks in a row. Getting on an agenda for a local board
of health takes time. It's a big process," she said. SEP
clients are driving down from Greeley, Fort Collins and other
northern areas, added Helwig.
"I would say it's split, and I don't know how it's going to
go," Larimer County Board of Health member Adrienne Lebailly
said of the board's consideration of an NCAP SEP. "Probably in
early 2012 there will be some sort of decision." "We also have
to consult with other entities," including the district
attorney and local law enforcement, she said. County District
Attorney Larry Abrahamson said he is not yet taking any formal