Tilley: Needle Exchanges Starting to Convince Addicts to Receive Treatment

May 15, 2017

John Tilley (right) is Secretary of Kentucky's Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.
Credit LRC Public Information

The Secretary of Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet says he’s thrilled with the impact of the state’s needle exchange programs.

John Tilley believes the 32 local needle exchange efforts in Kentucky represent a change in how the state is facing the growing problems of opioid addiction, and diseases spread through the use of infected syringes.

Tilley says many of the addicts participating in needle exchanges are deciding to get help.

“They are five times—five times—more likely to enter treatment. And we’ve had great success in getting people who go to these programs into treatment, so that’s a public health win. We have to do it to battle back Hepatitis C—that’s a public health nightmare in Kentucky.”

Kentucky’s rate of Hepatitis C infections is seven times the national average.

Tilley says the explosion in Hepatitis C is also a significant burden on the state’s taxpayers

“Because it’s a Medicaid issue. It becomes a multi-million dollar impact on Medcaid.”

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