PITTSBURGH - Prevention Point Pittsburgh is taking steps to expand one of its program that addresses the opioid crisis.
The Syringe Service program provides a judgment-free environment for drug users to get sterile needles.
The goal is to reduce the transmission of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C by giving addicts clean needles to use in place of shared or dirty ones.
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On Wednesday, the Allegheny County Health Department approved the nonprofit's proposal to start its fifth needle exchange in Carrick, one of the city's neediest neighborhoods.
"The south Pittsburgh community has shown up year after year after year as the ones that are experiencing the most overdoses, the most hepatitis C cases, the most 911 or police calls related to drug activity, so we wanted to go into a neighborhood that didn’t have a lot of resources currently," said Prevention Point Pittsburgh executive director Aaron Arnold.
The exchange will be set up in the parking lot of Spencer United Methodist Church.
"We welcome them and we want to do our part to fight the opioid epidemic in this community," said pastor Matthew Price.
If approved by city council, the needle exchange would take place in the parking lot of the church on Thursday afternoons. At first, Price was skeptical, but changed his mind after learning a similar program saved the life of a church member, and that the issue hits home for many.
"The opioid epidemic is great in this community," he said. "I’ve been in touch with two different families this week who are struggling with it, one of whom had a member of their family who overdosed just on Monday evening, so it’s very personal for many of the families in our church.”
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