SANTA ANA (AP) — Orange County’s first and only needle exchange program has shut down after Santa Ana city officials denied its permit application.

Kyle Barbour, co-founder of the Orange County Needle Exchange Program, said the nonprofit’s application was denied by the city in mid-January.

The Orange County Register reports the city contends the move was necessary because officials believe discarded syringes littering the streets pose a public health risk.

Needle exchanges seek to provide drug users with clean needles to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, like HIV and hepatitis C.

Barbour says the exchange is working on how to get back up and running because it feels needle exchanges are a crucial public health service.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast rewritten or redistributed.)

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