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Kentucky County Takes Next Step Towards Needle Exchange

Mary Meehan

Another community in south central Kentucky has signed off on the creation of a needle exchange for drug abusers. In a 4-3 vote, the Barren County Fiscal Court approved the program that will allow intravenous drug users to swap dirty needles for clean ones at the local health department.

They can do so confidentially while also getting information about treatment. Kentucky already has a high rate of Hepatitis-C cases, and health experts say needle exchanges can help reduce the spread of Hep-C and HIV. Magistrate John Benningfield says he thinks it’s a misconception that needle exchanges condone drug use.

"We implemented a one-for-one exchange, and I think anytime we can get anyone off drugs and into some type of counseling, I think is a good thing."

Opponents have voiced concerns about the program increasing drug activity and attracting drug users from surrounding counties. Before a needle exchange can begin, approval must also come from the Glasgow City Council at its next meeting in January.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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