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Area gets first syringe exchange program operating

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Published on Feb 14, 2014

CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- The first syringe exchange for drug addicts in the Cincinnati area is operating out of an RV in Springdale. It was developed as a tool to deal with the heroin epidemic and the increase in the number of Hepatitis C cases. The whole purpose of the Cincinnati Exchange Project is to keep people alive and healthy until they're ready for recovery. For treatment for addiction, said Dr. Judith Feinberg, the medical director of the Cincinnati Exchange Project.The project is a partnership between UC Health and Planned Parenthood. The Imperial Sovereign Queen City Court Buckeye Empire and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Cincinnati donated the RV. Drug use is prohibited in and around the vehicle. Once inside, addicts can exchange dirty needles for clean ones. They are offered information about treatment for drug addiction. Planned Parenthood conducts on-site testing for HIV, Hepatitis C and pregnancy. There's been an extreme increase in the number of Hepatitis C cases in our area mostly in young men and that's pretty much because of the increase in injection drug, said Adam Reilly, Proponents believe syringe exchange programs can be effective in reducing the spread of disease and saving lives. But, Charles Tassell of Citizens for Community Values questions the logic of passing out needles to addicts. He said everyone needs to work together to address heroin use and overdose deaths. Tassell has a family friend who‚„s battling heroin addiction. I agree that limiting those diseases and actually reducing them is a great concern. However going out and providing more needles to enable more people to take more drugs is not doing it, Tassell said. Dr. Feinberg said the program does not enable addicts. Just the availability of a clean syringe does not make people addicts. People are addicts for much more compelling reasons and they'll use dirty needles over and over again, Dr. Feinberg said. Dr. Feinberg will write a prescription for Naxolone, a drug that reverses a heroin overdose. The client must be trained in the use of the drug before a prescription is written. CEP can only exchange needles in Springdale. Feinberg and Reilly hope the project can expand into other communities. Sooner or later people come in and say I've had it. You know, help me. And that's what we want to be able to do, Dr. Feinberg said. CEP is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 3p.m. until 7 p.m. The RV is parked in the lot of the Oldgate Plaza at 290 Northland Blvd.

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