Iowa lawmakers consider syringe exchange program

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- Brenda Guzman lost her son Matt ten years ago after he overdosed on prescription pills. He was only 28.

"I don't want any parent to go through that," said Guzman.

After her son's passing Guzman joined an advocacy group, QC Harm Reduction, located at The Center in Davenport. The group helps provide resources for those battling drug addiction and distributes Narcan/Naloxone to those who've overdosed on drugs.

Kim Brown, who found the group knows the feeling of a child all too well. She lost her son Andy to a heroin overdose. He was only 33 years old.

Now these mothers are pushing for a bill to pass on a syringe exchange program or needle program in Iowa.

"This would free people up to have access to clean syringes so they aren't reusing old syringes that increase their risk of infection," said Brown.

And it's not just these mothers pushing for the bill but also the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, cases of Hepatitis C have increased to 375% for people under the age of 30. About half of them are people who inject drugs.

The CDC recommended Iowa for a syringe exchange program to help stop the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV.

"It's a community issue,these are our neighbors that are affected by this," said Wes Frenell, QC Harm Reduction Advocate.

According to CDC, syringe programs benefits communities in several ways, those using drugs are 5 times to enter treatment, reduced overdose deaths, save health care dollars by preventing infections.

Iowa state lawmakers discussed the issue on February 7th and will head to the Senate where it's yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

If passed Iowa could qualify for federal funding to pay for a syringe exchange program.