needle exchange

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The Hamilton County Health Commissioner says he has a plan to reduce the number of  drug-injected HIV cases following increases from 2018 to 2019.

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New cases of HIV infection have been on the rise in recent years in our region. In 2017, there were 184 newly-diagnosed cases, up 34 percent from 2016. And for the first time in Kentucky's history, the most common risk factor for the transmission was I-V drug use.

The Exchange Project Opens New Location On The West Side

Jun 14, 2018
Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

The Exchange Project has opened a new location in Westwood at 2420 Harrison Ave.

Needle exchanges provide people with drug addictions a place to turn in used needles and get new ones while working to prevent outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV. In 2017, Las Vegas installed three vending machines to dispense free, unused needles.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young learns more from Chelsi Cheatom, program manager for Trac-B Exchange, a medical clinic in Clark County, Nevada.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

It's too early to tell if Hamilton County's needle exchange program may be making a difference in local HIV infections. The number of new cases in the first quarter of this year is less than the same period last year. But more of the cases come from intravenous drug use (IDU).

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Hamilton County's needle exchange program is fully operational. And officials are hoping it will do more than just allow people to trade dirty syringes for clean ones.

Recent Increase In Local HIV Cases

Jan 17, 2018
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Health officials in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky recently reported an increase in the number of HIV cases linked to injection drug use in the region. The increase is the result of the continuing heroin crisis, as drug users share needles contaminated with the virus. That's why many health experts advocate for needle exchange programs, such as The Cincinnati Exchange Project (CEP), or the one operated in the Northern Kentucky Health Department's Grant County office.

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Northern Kentucky health officials want to ramp up needle exchange programs after the number of drug users contracting HIV infections tripled from 2016 to 2017.

Right now the number is still small. Eighteen people infected reported injection drug use among their risk factors in 2017 compared to only five reports in 2016.

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The Northern Kentucky Health Department is in the final approval stage for a planned needle exchange.

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Needle exchange programs allow intravenous drug users to trade in used needles for sterile ones, and are designed to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among drug users. They are also an effective way to present addicts with information about drug treatment programs and other social services. 

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

The record numbers of deaths due to drug overdoses in many parts of the country, including Ohio, is the most tragic result of the heroin and opiate epidemic. But the social costs of drug abuse are also on a dramatic rise. Last year thousands of individuals were arrested just in Hamilton County alone on drug-related charges.