(DUBUQUE, Iowa) – The opioid crisis has become a national epidemic. Now, the MercyOne Hospital in Dubuque is conducting research in needle exchange programs to examine their effectiveness.
Everyday, more Americans are contracting diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C because they are exchanging unsanitary needles. Syringe service programs were created to combat this problem.
These programs provide clean needles to consumers while properly disposing their used ones. Their goal is to prevent people from sharing their needles.
Now, MercyOne Hospital is examining these programs. As there are numerous locations of them across the country. However, it is currently illegal in Iowa for these programs to exist.
Matt Daughenbaugh, Director of Marketing and Communications for MercyOne, said that their team will study decades worth of research from these programs.
“There has been data since the 1980’s that has shown that syringe service programs have been effective in most areas,” said Daughenbaugh. “So we will be doing an extensive survey of all of that data across the country and internationally.”
MercyOne’s studies will include looking into local rates of HIV and Hepatitis C. They will also gauge the community’s reaction if such a program were available in Iowa.
“So what the study is going to do is it is really going to assess whether or not there is a need for harm reduction strategies including syringe service programs, said Daughenbaugh. “And it also assess the readiness of the community as to whether or not they’re actually ready for us to put one in place.”
MercyOne is expecting to have their research completed by August.
MercyOne Hospital is only conducting an analytical study from other syringe service programs. They will not, distribute nor will they accept any needles from anyone.