The use of P.E.I.'s needle exchange program is up more than 60 per cent in the past three years, with client visits reaching into the triple digits in 2012.

The province took over the needle exchange from AIDS P.E.I. in 2009. Public Health gives out free, clean needles and collects used ones. The goal is to encourage drug users to stop sharing needles.

pe-hi-needles-4col

The goal is to stop drug users from reusing intravenous needles. (CBC)

The province opened an exchange in Summerside in 2009, and in Alberton and Montague in 2010. The number of client visits has jumped from 670 in 2010 up to 1014 visits last year.

"We certainly have seen an increase in the urban areas in terms of the uptake of people coming forward," said program director Kathy Jones.

"The word is getting out into those communities in terms of the ability to seek this program."

Jones said the program is also seeing more of the needles it gives out returned. Of the 63,000 needles given out so far this year, she said, 60,000 have been returned.