test strips

In the day room at St. Ann's Corner of Harm Reduction, which runs a needle exchange program in the Bronx, a group of guys are playing dominoes and listening to salsa music while they wait for lunch. And Van Asher, one of the staffers in charge of "transactions" — that means he gives out needles — is talking up his latest idea for how to keep the users here safe.

He wants to tell them what's really in their stash.

"If you're doing dope," he says to one client, "we'll give you a test strip so you can test and see if there's fentanyl."

Chelsea Arnold was getting into debt over tiny pieces of plastic: diabetic test strips. When Arnold was first diagnosed with diabetes she needed to test her blood sugar 10 times a day. She went to Wal-Mart and found that one box, which contained only a five-day supply of test strips, was $80. Arnold called her parents and told them she didn't know what to do. She didn't have the money.