A needle-exchange program aimed at curbing the spread of hepatitis and HIV in Fayette County will likely be started by Labor Day weekend. The Lexington Urban County Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday to establish the program.
Under the preliminary plan, intravenous drug users would meet with county health department outreach specialists at the department's Newtown Pike building. Clients would be able to receive needles anonymously. A name would be needed if there is a request for a blood draw to test for HIV or a sexually transmitted infection.
Clients would be provided syringes, a semi-sealed container for sharp objects, and a bleach kit, condoms and educational materials.
A law passed by the state legislature in March allows local governments to create needle-exchange programs to help curb the state's growing heroin epidemic. Louisville's needle-exchange program started in June. Rates of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV have climbed dramatically in the past three years as heroin use has skyrocketed in Lexington and across Kentucky.