Needle Exchanges Gain Currency

As infections spread among intravenous drug users, officials reconsider syringe exchanges

Evidence that HIV and hepatitis C are spreading among intravenous drug users is prompting more state and local officials to consider setting up needle exchanges—including some who had been resistant to such programs.

The problem comes in tandem with rising intravenous use of heroin and prescription painkillers nationwide.

In Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear last week signed a bill into law aimed at combating the state’s epidemic of heroin and painkiller abuse. One provision allows local health departments to set up needle exchanges after obtaining approval from city and county governments.

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