The Clark County Health Department has expanded its needle exchange program, The Interchange, in Jeffersonville, Ind., by a few hours each week.
Services at The Interchange put in place to combat the spread of HIV and hepatitis C had only been offered on Thursdays. But since March 1, services have been available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 1-3 p.m., officials said.
As Insider reported in January, the NEP, which is funded by donations from local organizations and government grants, had been approved for another year.
The county hopes the new hours will increase access, and bump up the number of returned syringes.
Recent figures showed public health nurses have handed out more than 32,000 needles since the program’s inception in January 2017, officials said. Close to 20,000 were returned.
In its first year, more than 200 people took advantage of the needle exchange program in Clark County.
Such syringe-exchange programs have been shown to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases like HIV.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed injection drug users in Scott County, Ind., after a 2015 HIV outbreak.
“Interviews with 200 people who inject drugs also showed that HIV testing increased substantially as a result of the outbreak response,” according to the study. The syringe services program was the most common testing site — more than clinics, homes and jails, the study found.