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New Addition To Needle Exchange Will Connect Users With Treatment

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Josh James
/
WUKY

Lexington’s needle exchange program is putting a human face on treatment options available for drug users.

Nearly 160 participants have made close to 450 visits to the city’s needle exchange program at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department since the doors opened last September. Until now, those seeking treatment were handed a sheet with names and numbers of services in town or directed to the city’s Substance Abuse and Violence Intervention program.

Kevin Hall with the health department says the exchange will now offer professional, on-site referrals.

"Nobody was ever turned away if they wanted help. This just goes a step further and has somebody actually here in the building who is able to sit down and talk with them face to face, one on one, and say how can I help you, what do you need, and get them in the right spot," says health department spokesman Kevn Hall.

That guide will be Amy Baker, the program administrator with the Substance Abuse and Violence Intervention program. Though the exchange began close to eight months ago, Hall says requests for in-person help accessing rehabilitative services have been coming in "literally from the moment we opened the doors."

The needle exchange was launched in an effort to halt the spread of HIV and other blood-borne illnesses as the state grapples with an epidemic of heroin abuse.

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