What is the Syringe Exchange Access Program?
and Why We Need it in Northern Kentucky
The Syringe Exchange Access Program (Needle Exchange) is a public health program that reduces the spread of communicable diseases like hepatitis C and B and HIV in people who inject drugs, exchanges sterile syringes and needles for contaminated equipment, and properly disposes of contaminated equipment, while providing access to other health services, such as drug treatment, along with education, counseling and enrollment in health care coverage.
Northern Kentucky is gaining
national attention for its rates of
In 2014, NKY’s hepatitis B rate was0xthe national average.
In 2014, NKY’s hepatitis C rate was0xthe national average.
NKY’s HIV rate has not increased yet.
Now is the time to prevent new HIV infections.
Rates of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in Northern Kentucky have increased dramatically in the last five years.
The Health Department is required by statute to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and is uniquely positioned to provide a syringe access exchange program due to its facilities, qualified staff and on-going partnerships with the community.
The Northern Kentucky Board of Health has approved the Syringe Access Exchange Program but other approvals are required, including local city approvals. We need to ask the leaders of Newport and Covington to open a public discussion concerning the Syringe Access Exchange Program! See the links below to contact the leaders of Newport and Covington, and ask that they allow an open forum to discuss the Syringe Access Exchange Program at their monthly council meetings as soon as possible.
Treatment of blood-borne diseases is expensive. Syringe access programs are cost effective.
For Every$0Spent on Such a Program
Up To$0Is Saved in HIV Treatment Costs Alone.
Individuals in syringe access exchange programs are 25% more likely to eventually enroll in a drug treatment program.
Syringe Access Exchange Program Frequently Asked Questions
(click on your question for the answer)
Proposed Syringe Access Exchange Program
For Northern Kentucky
- Reduce transmission of diseases and infections spread by injection drug use.
- Reduce the amount of contaminated needles and syringes improperly discarded in the community.
- Act as an access point for individuals to obtain connections to treatment for substance use disorders, health care, counseling and other social services.
How will the program operate?
Northern Kentucky’s program has been modeled after similar successful programs throughout the country. It uses a cost-effective approach with best practices for disease prevention by utilizing existing staff and health centers already set up for providing services to this population.
- The program would be open to anyone who uses injection drugs. Exchange of needles would be provided anonymously; however, other health services, such as laboratory testing for hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis and pregnancy, and immunizations will be provided confidentially.
- Most participants will come weekly for clean syringes and other services. It’s estimated that the program will serve about 800 individuals annually across the four-county Northern Kentucky district. With four locations and weekly visits, it’s estimated that sites will see up to 10 participants per hour when the program is operating. The Health Department already handles much larger programs in its health centers—the WIC nutritional supplement program serves more than 8,000 participants annually.
- Most services provided through the syringe access exchange program will be free of charge. Clinical services beyond the exchange of equipment and rapid testing for hepatitis and HIV may be billed per the regular sliding scale fee or to a third party payor if participant is enrolled. No participant will be turned away for inability to pay.
- Current plans call for the program to operate during regular business hours, with designated times set for each county health center, based on expected use.
- Clinic flow has been analyzed at each health center, and syringe access exchange services are designed to have minimal interruption to other health center services. Participants for syringe access will follow a separate streamlined process for services.
- All participants will be required to agree to a list of Participant Rights and Responsibilities. Items covered by this policy include safely disposing of contaminated equipment and refraining from drug use on Health Department property. Violations can result in dismissal from the program.
- Specially trained Health Department nurses will staff the program, with one nurse at each site serving as the primary provider. If client volume for syringe access is higher, additional staff can be assigned to assist with the program. If client volume for syringe access is low, the nurse can provide other public health services to other clients of the health center.
- Participants in the syringe access exchange program will be offered a variety of referrals for other health and social services, including
- Treatment for a substance use disorder
- Other Health Department programs such as HIV case management, sexually transmitted disease treatment, family planning, etc.
- Primary medical care
- Mental health care
- Health insurance enrollment for those who are eligible for coverage
As with any new program, the Health Department will closely evaluate the syringe access exchange program to ensure the program is working and to drive any changes that need to be made. Data will be shared with the District Board of Health as well as others in the community. Items to be tracked include:
- Number of unduplicated participants with demographics such as age, ZIP code of residence and gender
- Frequency of intravenous injection
- Estimated number of needles brought to the exchange for proper disposal
- Number of needles issued
- Number of vaccines provided
- Number of tests for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis C and pregnancy, and rates of positivity for each
- Number of participants entering treatment for substance use disorders
- Number of participants enrolled in health insurance coverage through kynect
- Number of police and/or EMS runs to the health center for addressing issues related to individuals’ injection drug use.
How Can You Help Your Community?
We as a caring community need to inform our civic leaders of the importance of instituting Syringe Access Exchange Programs in Northern Kentucky.
You can become involved in the process by reaching out to your community leaders, including the city leaders in Newport and Covington. If you agree that Northern Kentucky is in dire need of Syringe Access Exchange Programs, visit a city council meeting in person and ask that they place it on the docket to open a public discussion. Or email them and let them know we need Syringe Access Exchange Programs NOW!
City of Covington Leaders
Mayor Sherry Carran
Mayor Pro Tem/Commissioner Steve Frank
Commissioner Chuck Eilerman
Commissioner Jordan Huizenga
Commissioner Bill Wells
City of Newport Leaders
Mayor Jerry Peluso
Vice Mayor Frank Peluso, Sr.
Commissioner Tom Guidugli
Commissioner Beth Fennell
Commissioner John Hayden