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Syringe Exchanges More Than Doubled In Ohio Over Three Years

A jug of used needles to exchange in Camden, N.J., on Oct. 29, 2015.
Mel Evans
/
Associated Press
A jug of used needles to exchange in Camden, N.J., on Oct. 29, 2015.

A new report by The Center for Community Solutions shows that programs that get used syringes off the streets in Ohio have more than doubled in the last three years.

Health Planning chair Melissa Federman said the addition of 10 new syringe service programs across the state is a response to the opioid epidemic.

“Really, what we were seeing was the community responding to the increase not only in overdoses, because it’s an excellent way to reach people who inject drugs with Naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, but it’s also in response to increasing Hepatitis C and HIV rates that we’re seeing across the state," Federman said.

Since 2016, needle exchanges have been established in Athens, Summit County, Jefferson County, Canton, Greene County, Marion, Lucas County, Darke County, Zanesville, and Brown County.

Federman said Cuyahoga County was the first to have a program like this, and it’s helped the county curb the spread of disease despite increasing drug use.

The Center for Community Solution ends its report with recommendations for additional public and private funding for needle exchanges, partnerships with HIV planning groups and other service organizations, and community education efforts.

Last year, SafePoint in Columbus changed its syringe access program be a syringe exchange instead, following community concerns about loose needles. Columbus' program began in 2016, more than two decades after Cleveland's started.

There are two more developing syringe service programs forming in Lorain and Licking County.