Project that offers a needle exchange to promote health unwelcome in Lower Price Hill

CINCINNATI -- A project that offers a needle exchange to help curb the spreading of disease isn't welcome in Lower Price Hill, according to a letter from council.

Secretary of the Lower Price Hill Community Council Eileen Gallagher said Tuesday that the area is the new target for the Cincinnati Exchange Project's headquarters, and was chosen because the location is easy to get to.

The project sets up a needle exchange van within a community, with a goal to make the drug-using community healthier and increase treatment.

According to the Cincinnati Exchange Project, "Participants will also receive education on safer sex, safer injection use and where to get drug treatment and medical care."

Most recently, the needle exchange van made Springdale its home. In March, council members voted strongly against the van, fearing its services would be too close to homes and businesses.

Springdale resident Kyle Wallace had to walk by the van to and from school.

"I do not feel comfortable walking past a place where addicts can regain what they've been using," Wallace said.

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That comfort doesn't lie in Lower Price Hill, either, according to Gallagher.

The controversial drug project "would bring multiple problems into this quiet, safe neighborhood," Gallagher said. "Contrary to unreliable claims, there is not a 'heroin epidemic' in Lower Price Hill. Local addicts, yes. Epidemic, no."

Gallagher fears that the needle exchange van would add dangers to the Lower Price Hill area.

"Lower Price Hill would have addicts, all strangers, wandering around waiting to be given free needles, prescriptions and advice from the Exchange Project," she said. "The Lower Price Hill Community Council has documentation from reputable sources that needle-handout projects also attract drug dealers who sell drugs to addicts just given clean needles. Medical emergencies, ODs, and crime would go up, as would the arrival of bevies of prostitutes. The safety of residents and businesses would be at risk."

The Cincinnati Exchange Project, Gallagher feels, fails at treating the city's heroin use.

"It merely supplies drug paraphernalia, prescriptions, and advice on self-injections and sex to addicts exchanged in an illegal activity," Gallagher said.

She said at a March 10 council meeting the Cincinnati Exchange Project representatives said they would attend the next council meeting, set for April 7.

Adam Reilly works with the Cincinnati Exchange Project, and told WCPO reporter Bryce Anslinger of his support for the needle exchange's efforts.

"It's been proven scientifically that it works very well," he said. "Reduce the rates of infections among that population ... I don't understand the notion that bringing it, we're trying to do something about it, and I personally don't see anyone trying anything as substantive as this."

Reilly, along with other supporters said the program encourages more people to enroll in treatment programs, reduces HIV infections and does not boost a neighborhood's crime rate.

"Just the availabitity of a needle is not going to get someone to do drugs, people do them regardless, so the people who are going to do drugs are going to do them regardless," Reilly said.




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