The Exchange Project van, which is operated by Hamilton County Public Health, will visit the Clermont Hospital campus every Thursday from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. The hospital is located at 3000 Hospital Drive, Batavia, Ohio 45103.
In addition to providing access to sterile syringes, the program also offers testing and referral to treatment for HIV and Hepatitis C, education on prevention of infection and an access point to substance use disorder counseling and treatment programs. The program also provides naloxone, also known as Narcan, an opiate overdose reversal medication.
“A syringe services program is one more tool that we can use in the fight against opioid addiction. By providing resources such as referral to treatment and testing for HIV and hepatitis C, we can address other issues that accompany drug addiction,” said Julianne Nesbit, Clermont County Health Commissioner. “We are very fortunate to have a good partnership in place with Hamilton County Public Health and Mercy Health – Clermont Hospital to offer this valuable service.”
The needle exchange program, also known as a blood-borne infectious disease prevention program, is part of a wider comprehensive public health/harm reduction program.
“By providing access to sterile syringes to people who inject drugs, we can help reduce the spread of communicable diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV. Reported cases of hepatitis C, an infectious disease that can quickly transmit through injection drug use, increased by 40 percent in the last five years in Clermont County. During the same time period, the number of people living with HIV in Clermont County increased by 27%,” said Stephen Feagins, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs for Mercy Health’s East market. “Harm reduction efforts, such as syringe service programs, have been shown to have a positive impact in these areas.”
Approximately one in three people ages 18-30 who inject drugs has hepatitis C and hepatitis C kills more Americans than any other infectious disease. For those who live with the disease, the medication cost alone to treat one case of hepatitis C is $84,000. The lifetime cost of treating one person living with HIV is $400,000. By contrast, the estimated cost of the Clermont County’s needle exchange program is $42,000 annually, with Mercy Health Foundation and Clermont County Public Health funding the program.
Other benefits of a syringe services program include:
- Making used syringes valuable. People can exchange them for new ones, rather than discarding them in public areas.
- Connecting people with treatment. People who inject drugs are five times as likely to enter treatment for substance use disorder when they use a syringe services program.
- Reducing accidental needle stick injuries among first responders by providing proper disposal.
For more information about Clermont County Public Health’s syringe services program, visit http://www.clermonthealthdistrict.org/syringeservices.aspx. For more information on The Exchange Project, visit https://www.facebook.com/hc.xchange/.