Louisville Magazine

AUG 2015

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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48 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.15 48 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.15 She hops out of the car and bends down to stroke a yapping dog. A mother of two small children and many animals, she can't ignore pleas for attention. Te shirtless man walks up to Combs with a limp in his step and a grin on his face. "I missed you guys yesterday," he says in a voice that croaks. Combs is friendly, with a pretty smile and no-fuss look — curly brown hair tied back, glasses, no makeup. Te regulars on her route perk up when they see her. "She helps me," they'll say to skeptical friends or relatives. Combs grabs a clip- board with a mandatory questionnaire. "How old are you?" "Forty-three." "Opana?" "Yeah." "Hep C Test? HIV test?" "Yup." "You sharing needles?" "Hell, no." "Good. Tat's what we like to hear." Te HIV outbreak frightened people. Tey still do share needles, but only if they're out of clean ones. Law enforcement has agreed not to arrest anyone with nee- dles from the exchange. As long as they have the laminated white card showing they're enrolled in the program. A teenage girl in a gray tank top watches, listening to the man answer Combs' ques- tions. She sits on a loveseat parked outside, cushions askew. "How many times a day (do you use)?" Combs asks. "At least three," he says. "Maybe more." Te girl seems bored, like this visit registers at about the same interest level as the mailman's. "It's just how they were raised," Combs will say later. "It's just normal." Te teenage girl's eyes drift over to a Time magazine photog- rapher also along for the ride who clicks photos of a skinny gray cat and a barn stufed so full a dirty mattress hangs out like a tongue. Combs hands the man a brown bag given to all needle-exchange participants. It's stufed with a fier indicating hours and services at the Outreach Center, a sand- wich baggie with alcohol swabs, Band-Aids and cotton balls, and a brochure listing treatment and support groups in Southern Indiana. Most of the facilities are not in Austin. Te closest residential drug detox and rehabilitation center, Turning Point, is in Jefersonville, Indiana, just across the river from Louisville. In hindsight, this HIV outbreak doesn't surprise Combs. In 2011, Scott Coun- ty saw 19 deaths from prescription-pill overdoses, about half of all deaths referred to the county coroner that year. Rates of hepatitis C, a potentially deadly blood- Jerry Pennington stands outside his home after a visit from Scott County's mobile needle exchange.

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