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Syringe exchange sites coming to Kent, Sussex County

Brandywine Counseling
The syringe exchanges in Kent and Sussex County will be added to Brandywine Counseling's COPE RV.

Last year – lawmakers approved expansion of the state’s syringe exchange program. That expansion is now underway in Kent and Sussex counties.

Until last summer – Delaware’s syringe exchange program was limited to the city of Wilmington.


“Apparently it was very politically controversial," said Carol Rattay, Director of Delaware’s Division of Public Health.


And while bipartisan legislation was passed to change that – it didn’t come with the funding needed to make it happen.  


Enter Brandywine Counseling – the state’s sole contractor for needle and syringe exchanges in Delaware. It’s received a federal grant to add at least one syringe exchange site each in both Kent and Sussex County.


The group’s CEO Lynn Fahey says the exchange – for active users to trade in dirty needles or syringes for clean ones – is a harm reduction technique to reduce the transmission of HIV and hepatitis.


In Delaware, 50 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases are directly or indirectly related to needle sharing.


“But we use that as an opportunity to say to them, hey are you ready for treatment?" Fahey said.


Fahey plans to have the exchange sites added to already existing COPE RVs by the end of March – providing not only drug treatment and overdose prevention services but also basic health screenings and pregnancy tests in central and southern Delaware.


The program in Wilmington has successfully enrolled nearly 900 clients in treatment programs.

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