NEWPORT, Ky. -- Newport and Covington will be the latest Greater Cincinnati cities to offer resources and sterile equipment for intravenous drug users.
Northern Kentucky Health Department officials will run a mobile needle exchange unit starting July 24. The program is Northern Kentucky’s second; Grant County’s needle exchange program has referred over 100 people to treatment and distributed over 400 naloxone kits in its two years of operation.
The mobile unit, provided by Kentucky Fire Commission, will be parked at St. Elizabeth locations in Newport and Covington every Tuesday and Thursday.
The new needle exchange program will allow people who use drugs intravenously to exchange used needles for clean ones in an effort to prevent the rampant spread of diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV in Northern Kentucky.
“We are grateful to St. Elizabeth and to the Kentucky Fire Commission for partnering with us on this urgent public health matter. Their generosity means that those in need of these important and often life-saving services will have easier access to our syringe access exchange program,” said Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health at NKY Health.
Nearly half of HIV infections in Northern Kentucky in 2017 came from injection drug use, according to data from state and local public health officials. Hepatitis C cases also increased 8.4 percent in 2017; about 1,404 cases of acute and non-acute Hepatitis C were reported last year.
The needle exchange program will operate on the following schedule:
1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays at St. Elizabeth Healthcare Urgent Care in Newport/Ft. Thomas at 1400 N. Grand Ave
1 to 4 p.m. Thursdays at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Covington at 1500 James Simpson Jr. Way
The mobile unit will be open to the public from 2 to 3 p.m. on July 17 at the Newport location and on July 19 at the Covington location.