NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - The City of Newport announced they have authorized a needle exchange program Monday.
City officials say this move comes after two years of studying and listening to input from Newport residents.
The vote by the board of commissioners authorizes the Northern Kentucky Health Department to administer a mobile unit syringe exchange at the St. Elizabeth Physicians facility on Grand Avenue.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department says that the program is a tool to reduce the threat of infectious disease spread through infected equipment. They also say that the program is a way for people who use drugs to have more access to treatment and health resources.
The health department says that the rates of HIV and hepatitis C are on the rise in the area.
City officials say they did extensive research including input from surveys of Newport residents as well as community and neighborhood groups that showed that 80 percent of city residents support the program.
"We have come full circle as a community," Newport City Manager Tom Fromme said. " People know it's a problem we have to address. More and more people are having their lives affected by this, and it's a natural progression for them to see this program as essential."
There is no start date set for the program, but city officials say it will be decided by St. Elizabeth and the Northern Kentucky Health Department.