MCHD offering syringe exchange program for drug users

MARQUETTE COUNTY — A new program starting today in Marquette County is hoping to reduce the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, while also encouraging drug users to seek help in a judgment-free environment. It’s called ‘New Points.’

It’s a syringe exchange program that gives the public access to sterile syringes, water, tourniquets, and other injection equipment.

“Marquette County is also seeing the opioid use epidemic, so we are hoping that we can get free HIV and Hepatitis C testing as part of our services that we can get people tested and into treatment  if that’s what they need,” said Marquette County Health Department Health Educator, Emily Pratt.

The program for Marquette County is stationed out of the Upper Great Lakes Sawyer Family Health Center. While it’s new to Marquette County, a mobile project has been ongoing in Chippewa County, and health centers downstate have seen similar programs for a few years now. Starting today and continuing every Thursday from 3-6 pm, people can be connected to healthcare.

“Well, recovery and treatment can look different for a lot of people – there’s several different options, but we’ll have a peer recovery coach on site, to help link those people to the best service for them.”

Pratt also says research on syringe access programs has shown that they do not increase crime or drug use, but rather, provide recovery options for those who are ready. In the future, the Marquette County Health Department hopes to see other programs like New Points in the Upper Peninsula.