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