The Buffalo Trace District Health Department offers a syringe access and exchange program (also known as a “syringe exchange”).
Through the free, completely anonymous program, injecting drug-users are able to receive sterile injection equipment at no cost. No appointment is needed. Participants are also offered information on community resources and treatment options, as well as testing and counseling for HIV, Hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The primary goal of the syringe exchange program is to prevent the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other diseases that are spread when injecting drug-users share or reuse their syringes or other injection equipment. The annual cost of operating this program for both counties is less than half the annual cost of treating a single case of Hepatitis C. Syringe exchange programs also give injecting drug-users an incentive to dispose of their syringes safely; the program is a one-for-one exchange, so if a patient is issued five syringes one week and only returns three of them to the health department, that patient will only receive three syringes at that appointment. This helps prevent used syringes from being discarded in public, where they pose a risk to the public.