Injection drug use is associated with the rise in number of hepatitis C cases.
Potentially fatal hepatitis C, a virus commonly contracted through injected drug use, rose sharply across the Cincinnati region in 2016, two years after Northern Kentucky had already beat the nation’s rate by nearly 20 percentage points. Yet a key tool that health experts say can cut those infections – needle exchange – is barely available here.
Only one exchange site exists in Northern Kentucky, two years after a state law was changed to allow such programs, and it’s outside the population centers of Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties. In Southwest Ohio, the only needle exchange program is limping along with spotty funding and little government support.
Needle exchange is lagging locally although the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supports such exchanges to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including hepatitis B and C and HIV.
The Cincinnati region now has five needle exchange sites. Cincinnati Exchange Project administered by the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, has mobile locations in Northside, Mount Auburn, Walnut Hills and Middletown. The Northern Kentucky Health Department’s site is in Williamstown, a small city in Grant County. Middletown City has agreed to pay $42,129.80 a year for its Cincinnati Exchange Project site.
Public health officials in Cincinnati, Hamilton County and Northern Kentucky all support establishing needle exchange programs in one form or another.
Read full article: Why isn’t this solution to the spread of Hep C being used here?
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