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Pittsburgh City Council Approves Overbrook Needle Exchange

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The exterior of Fairhaven United Methodist Church.

The public health community has long called for a needle exchange in south Pittsburgh, as fatal overdose data indicates high opioid use in this area. On Tuesday, a proposed site for distributing sterile syringes to injection drug users passed its final hurdle. 

Pittsburgh City Council gave final approval to the nonprofit Prevention Point Pittsburgh's fourth needle exchange site, to be located in the Overbrook neighborhood. On Thursday afternoons, the exchange will operate out of the parking lot of Fairhaven United Methodist Church on Route 51.

Neighborhood opposition made finding a site for a south Pittsburgh needle exchange difficult. In fact this fall, a proposal for a distribution site in nearby Carrick was thwarted due to community pushback.

Clean needles help prevent injection drug users from contracting HIV, hepatitis and other infections. Prevention Point also connects people to addiction treatment services and gives out naloxone, the medication that can revive a person from an opioid overdose. Many public health experts cite Prevention Point's naloxone distribution as key to the drop in fatal opioid overdoses in Allegheny County. 

Prevention Point executive director Aaron Arnold wrote in an email that the organization is still figuring out logistics, but that it tentatively plans to begin operations at the Overbrook site in February. 

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.
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