Year of Publication

2016

College

Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Corrine Williams, ScD, MS

Committee Member

Angela Carman, DrPH

Committee Member

Kathryn Cardarelli, PhD

Abstract

Intravenous drug users (IDUs) account for nearly 16% of new HIV infections in the United States and almost one half (48%) of newly reported acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections have been found to be IDU related.1 Within the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, hepatitis C infections have soared with an incidence of more than 1,000 newly reported cases during 2015 alone.4 Rigorous scientific evidence complied by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has indicated that one of the most unique and effective strategies for the curtailing HIV incidence among IDUs is by ensuring users’ access to sterile injection equipment, as part of a well-designed and implemented HIV prevention strategy.8 The intervention adapted and proposed by the Northern Kentucky Health Department (NKHD) aims to provide IDUs within the Northern Kentucky Area Development District with a mobile needle exchange program entitled “Exchange Northern KY,” designed to provide the safe disposal of used needles and syringes for IDUs, supply clean needles to lessen the possibility of HCV infection through shared needles, and assist IDUs with finding treatment and social services with which they may not be currently familiar, as part of a larger community HCV prevention and substance abuse strategy. Resulting health impacts are aimed to primarily include an increase in public knowledge about the services provided by “Exchange Northern KY” to the community, and in long-term outcome goals, a 5% reduction in hepatitis C incidence after three years of program implementation.

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