KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro man is warning his neighbors about dirty, used needles on the ground in areas you might walk your pets or even take your children.
“I guess they just get high and drop the needle," Corey Schaadt said. "Who knows what disease they have on it that could be transferred to someone else on accident."
The 25-year-old has lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood for about two years. He said he finds used needles and other drug paraphernalia around his neighborhood, near 36th and Central, all the time.
“I walk my dog over in that vacant lot across the street, and just needles, paraphernalia, the orange caps -- and I've been finding a bunch of needles under the leaf litter,” Schaadt said. “It's covered in leaves and old grass, and they're uncapped underneath the leaf litter. And if you're walking there, I mean, they are sharp enough to go through a shoe, definitely into a pet's paw. And if a little kid is running around playing, it's not good.”
The Kansas City Care Clinic said it's seeing an uptick in the number of client needle exchange encounters.
Kansas City has had a needle exchange program for more than two decades with tens of thousands of needles exchanged monthly.
People can walk in, and turn in their dirty needles from IV drug use. They’re given clean syringes for every one they bring in -- so if a client brings in 200 dirty needles, they give them 200 clean needles.
The clinic on Broadway distributes just under 600,000 needles a year.
The idea is that giving clients clean syringes reduces the likelihood they will get HIV or Hepatitis. They're also given other supplies, and it's all done confidentially.
“There are bands from when they're shooting up,” said Schaadt, describing other items he finds around his neighborhood.
But drug paraphernalia isn't the only thing showing up in his neighborhood.
“Not only are the needles there, but the people who use them are there,” Schaadt said.
He said he won't walk his dog there anymore, and he's concerned for his neighbors.
“I'm not going to take her there anymore," he said. "I don`t want her getting pricked by one. That would not be good."
Schaadt said he picks up the ones he finds and disposes of them to protect others but said it's hard to keep up with how many there are.
The Centers for Disease Control says needle exchange programs are one reason there are nearly 90 percent fewer HIV infections from IV drug use than there were in the late 1980s.
Missouri does not have a law banning or encouraging exchange programs. Kansas bans them. Some lawmakers say exchanges encourage IV drug use.