- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (AP) - Nearly 11 months after the Kentucky Legislature paved a pathway for needle exchange in the state, the Northern Kentucky Health Department is set to get its first program.

The Grant County Fiscal Court agreed Monday to have the program in the department’s Williamstown Health Center, The Kentucky Enquirer reported (cin.ci/1PC71AB).

Grant County is the eighth in the state to approve a syringe-access exchange program.

“I am grateful to the elected officials who took the time to educate themselves and their constituents on the necessity of not only helping to stop the transmission of disease but also to provide assistance to a vulnerable population,” said Jim Thaxton, coordinator for the Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact Response Task Force.

Dr. Lynne Saddler, the health department’s district director, said the programs aren’t only a response to the region’s heroin epidemic, but are also a crucial step to prevent the spread of hepatitis C and HIV in communities.

Health department spokeswoman Emily Gresham-Wherle said the program’s opening date wasn’t immediately decided.

The health department’s concept will exchange clean for contaminated needles, and provide testing and other services that the department already offers. Another goal is to help guide drug users toward treatment.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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