Hoping to prevent outbreak of HIV, hepatitis B and C
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 11, 2016) — The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness will open a second community site for the Louisville Metro Syringe Exchange Program on Feb.17. The site will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays in a vacant lot owned by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority at 1455 Bicknell Avenue. The site will be operated by Volunteers of America under a contract to the Department of Public Health and Wellness.
Public Health and Wellness opened its first community outreach site in October at the Lake Dreamland Fire Station, 4603 Cane Run Road. That site is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays. The Louisville Metro Syringe Exchange Program’s main site is in a unit adjacent Public Health and Wellness headquarters at 400 E. Gray St. That site is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday; from 1-6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday; from 3-6 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday; and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“We hope that the newest community outreach for the Louisville Metro Syringe Exchange Program will make services available to more people, particularly to those who do not have access to an automobile,” said Public Health and Wellness interim director, Dr. Sarah Moyer.
The Louisville Metro Syringe Exchange program was established in June to protect the community from the same sort of outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C that afflicted Austin, Ind., just 35 miles from Louisville. In the first half of 2015, that community saw 181 new HIV cases spread by people who inject drugs, with about 86 percent of those infected with HIV also infected with hepatitis C. In a city the size of Louisville, that would have translated to more than 31,600 new HIV cases and 27,100 new hepatitis C cases.
The syringe exchange program has been successful in preventing such an outbreak in Louisville. Since June, the Louisville Metro Syringe Exchange has seen more than 2,000 clients and referred 106 for drug treatment.