Livingston Parish eyeing syringe services to lower hepatitis A numbers

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Livingston Parish, La. (LOCAL 33)(FOX 44)- The Livingston Parish Council is considering adopting a syringe service program in an effort to curb hepatitis and HIV numbers parish-wide.

The program would set up clinics and facilities specifically geared toward providing sterile needles to drug users.

The goal is to reduce the number of blood-spread diseases by offering users additional services like infection screenings as well as addiction programs.

Before syringe services become a reality in Livingston Parish, the parish council has to approve an ordinance that would decriminalize the dissemination of needles. Currently, handing out needles would be punishable.

Several states have implemented some type of syringe service in the past couple of years.

According to the CDC, needle exchange are associated with a 50 percent reduction in HIV and hepatitis infections.

Critics of the exchange claim the needle exchange might foster an already growing drug habit. John Wacsom, a Livingston Parish councilman, says he won’t vote for the measure until he has all the information he needs.

” I just don’t think this is going to be conducive to the proper growth and attracting the things that make cities attractive,” Wascom says.

Alex Billioux, the Assistant Secretary of Public Health, says these programs provide an alternative for drug users looking to quit.

“It’s one of the most important things we can do to save lives to keep people from dying because,” Billioux says. “We can give people Naloxone which can reverse the effects of an overdose.”

The council will meet to discuss the syringe service ordinance on Thursday Dec. 5th.

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