Louisville Metro Council set to vote on needle exchange program - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Metro Council set to vote on needle exchange program

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In March, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear signed a bill allowing local governments to institute needle exchanges if those municipalities saw fit. In March, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear signed a bill allowing local governments to institute needle exchanges if those municipalities saw fit.
On Thursday, Metro Council will hold a first reading of new legislation permitting Louisville Health and Wellness to begin a free needle exchange program. On Thursday, Metro Council will hold a first reading of new legislation permitting Louisville Health and Wellness to begin a free needle exchange program.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro government is taking steps to implement a needle exchange program in Louisville.

On Thursday, Metro Council will hold a first reading of new legislation permitting Louisville Health and Wellness to begin a free needle exchange program.

“We can't get people into treatment if they aren't in any kind of relationship with the health department,” said the legislation's sponsor and District 12 Metro Councilman Rick Blackwell.

In March, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear signed a bill allowing local governments to institute needle exchanges if those municipalities saw fit.

"Those are things, from a public health standpoint, we want to see take place, so our Public Health & Wellness Dept. is looking at the bill right now to see what it's going to take to implement a local program," said Mayor Greg Fischer at the time of the bill's signing.

Blackwell says one of the biggest issues Metro Council and Louisville Health and Wellness will have to overcome is where the physical location of the needle exchange will be.

“That hasn't been determined yet,” Blackwell said of the location, “So we have to put this in place so the health department can move forward in their plans.”

Blackwell says the main aim in creating such a program is not only lower the use of heroin but keep numbers of those infected with HIV and Hepatitis low as well.

“We saw in Indiana an increase in HIV. We haven't at this point,” Blackwell said of Metro Louisville. “We haven't seen that happen at this point but we hope this program will keep that from happening.”

Metro Council will discuss and hear a first reading of the legislation allowing Louisville Health and Wellness to proceed on Thursday, April 16. Blackwell says he hopes to have details sorted on the program by early May.

“I really do believe that if you can get people in a relationship with the health department we have a better chance of getting them treatment.” Blackwell added, “And ultimately that's the goal.”

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