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El Paso County needle exchange appears dead after hitting Board of Health roadblock


​A needle exchange won't be opening in El Paso County for the foreseeable future.
 
The proposed program met swift opposition from most of the county's nine Board of Health members during their meeting Monday morning, running aground over the same concerns of enabled drug use that doomed a similar proposal four years ago.
 
Though no formal vote was held this time, a majority of the board directed El Paso County Public Health employees not to work with a nonprofit seeking to create an exchange on Colorado Springs' west side - effectively killing the proposal. "There are other compassionate ways to address this that need to be brought forward," said El Paso County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez.
 
The move came despite pleas from infectious-disease doctors and other health care professionals who called the program crucial to stemming the rising tide of hepatitis C cases, which have more than doubled since 2013.
 
Leaders of the Colorado Health Network, whose southern chapter proposed running the exchange, reacted with fatigued disappointment Monday.