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Lexington Needle Exchange In Final Stages


As debate continues in Frankfort over the amount of leeway communities should have when designing local needle exchanges, Lexington health officials are entering the final stages of crafting the city’s program.

Lexington and Louisville are being held up as competing test cases by lawmakers who disagree over the most effective model for the exchanges. While Louisville’s system strips any requirement that drug users supply dirty needles before receiving clean ones, Lexington’s exchange will keep that rule in place.

"The reason for it is we're dealing with the public health part of it. And I've got 300,000 people who live here and all of them are at risk of getting stuck with any needle lying around," Fayette Health Commissioner Dr. Rice Leach explains. "The individual patients are at risk if they share the needles, so the more clean needles you have out there the less transmission of hepatitis B and C and HIV you have. That's where we're starting and if you don't bring the needles in you're not interrupting the process."

Republican leaders in the General Assembly plan to revisit the needle exchange provision during the 2016 session and look into setting stricter guidelines that limit communities to true exchanges.

Lexington’s program is set to launch in early September. 

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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