Local governments are already moving to set up needle exchanges just a day after the Kentucky state legislature authorized the programs through a comprehensive heroin bill.
If implemented, drug users would be able to exchange dirty needles for clean ones from local public health departments.
Rice Leach, the commissioner of the Lexington-Fayette County Public Health Department, said needle exchanges would stymie the transfer of blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV.
“From a public health point of view it’s a perfect way to reduce the spread of diseases if not managed properly,” Leach said. “And those diseases manage to work their way into the population that does not use drugs.”
Public health departments in Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky have indicated they support needle exchanges and are working with local councils to approve programs.
In a statement, the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness said officials were “studying the possibility of local implementation.” The Louisville officials will examine cost, locations and possible partners for an exchange, the department said in a statement.