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Lexington Needle Exchange Program Taking Shape


Lexington health officials are reporting progress in crafting a proposal for the city’s new needle exchange program, which could come before the Urban County Council by August. But the process isn’t as easy as implementing a simple policy change.

Bringing a successful needle exchange program online requires coordination and input from a long list of stakeholders. And Fayette County Health Commissioner Dr. Rice Leach says his department is reaching out to state health officials, law enforcement, infectious disease specialists at UK, and, perhaps most importantly, substance abusers themselves.

"At the end of the day, this thing will work if the people who need this help trust us," he says.

The goal is to lessen the spread of hepatitis, HIV, and other diseases passed along through dirty needles, but drug users aren’t the only victims.

"People who have been affected through drug use with those diseases also have sex with people who are not drug users, so from a public health point of view, it's a way to stop the spread of those diseases among people who are heroin users and to... the general public," Leach says.

After the preliminary design is tweaked and finalized, it will head to the Fayette County Board of Health and eventually the Urban County Council for approval.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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