Louisville Magazine

AUG 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.16 35 conversation about their addiction. Usually the whole process takes less than 15 minutes. By the time they leave with their brown bag of supplies in addition to needles, they're at ease, perhaps compelled to sing the exchange's praises. "is is a really helpful program. I hope it doesn't stop," says a petite brunette. "I don't think it will," La Rocco replies. "It's a huge deal," she says. "I've been doing this for years. Getting clean needles — that's a weight off." Louisville's syringe exchange was the first of its kind in Kentucky, made possible by last year's Senate Bill 192, the so-called "Heroin Bill" that green-lighted a number of efforts to curb the state's heroin epidemic. Kentucky, along with the rest of the country, has experienced heroin resurgence. A recent Kentucky Health Issues Poll showed 13 percent of adults have a relative or friend who's experienced heroin-related issues. at's up from 9 percent in 2013. Kentucky ranks second in the nation along with New Mexico for the most drug overdose deaths per capita.While La Rocco knew the community needed a needle exchange long before state legislators acted, last year's HIV and hepatitis C outbreak in nearby Scott County, Indiana — where some 180 people contracted HIV in a community of 4,200 — brought urgency. Since opening, the needle exchange has stayed busy, providing nearly 416,000 needles to participants and taking in more than 245,000, a respectable rate for needle exchanges. (Rules encourage people to bring back needles. If they show up empty-handed, they can only leave with 10 "rigs." Turn some in, and you get double the number you return up to a week's worth, which for most addicts totals about 40 to 70 needles.) In its first year, the exchange has expanded, now hosting sites in Lake Dreamland and South Louisville with the help of Volunteers of America workers. ose satellite sites are each open only one day a week. La Rocco thinks the city could probably sustain another site like the one downtown that's open six days a week. While most clients come from Jefferson County, 360 have arrived from Floyd and Clark counties in Indiana, with dozens hailing from Oldham, Hardin and Bullitt counties. Ninety-two percent of the exchange participants are white. Sixty-three percent are male. Sixty-five percent are unemployed. gocards.com/tickets

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