Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

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

Committee Chair

Dr. Teresa M. Waters

Committee Member

Dr. Sarah B. Wackerbarth

Committee Member

Dr. Julia F. Costich


Non-white Kentuckians use syringe exchange programs (SEPs) at lower rates than white Kentuckians. This analysis begins by documenting this disparity and then explores several potential causes. Access to SEPs is limited by law as only health departments may operate them. Areas of the state in which SEPs face political opposition are therefore underserved. A consequence of this legal limitation is distance to a SEP may be a barrier to access. Analysis of publicly available data indicates non-white drug users in Kentucky are located closer to syringe exchange programs in urban areas but farther away in rural areas. Proximity to a syringe exchange program does not appear to influence use as nonwhite representation at syringe exchange programs in Kentucky is low overall, for those clients whose race can be identified. It is recommended that education about the benefits of SEPs be increased in majority non-white communities. Policy recommendations would be to amend KRS 218A.500 to allow entities other than health departments to operate syringe exchange programs, and to allow for deployment of SEPs in the state of Kentucky through means not affiliated with health departments such as mobile units or syringe vending machines.

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