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State Health Officials Ask for Federal Help to Maintain Needle Exchange Programs


State health officials this week applied for federal funding to support needle exchange programs in Ohio.

That would provide a lifeline for the Canton Health Department’s SWAP program, which marked its first anniversary in June.

Director of nursing Diane Thompson says the needle exchange program has exceeded its goals, but its first year funding has dried up.

“We no longer have sustainable income coming in to purchase supplies," Thompson says. "So we’re are doing everything we can to apply to any grants that are out there, any foundations that are interested in supporting our program.”

Thompson says research demonstrates that syringe exchange programs reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other diseases, and effectively move people into treatment.

Summit and Cuyahoga counties also have needle exchange programs. 

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Tyler Thompson was a reporter and on-air host for 89.7 NPR News. Thompson, originally from northeast Ohio, has spent the last three years working as a Morning Edition host and reporter at NPR member station KDLG Public Radio and reporter at the Bristol Bay Times Newspaper in Dillingham, Alaska.