Proposal for Syringe Service Program in Grand Forks to Reduce Hepatitis C

Between 2017 and 2018 there has been a 78% increase in the rate of Hepatitis C in Grand Forks County

GRAND FORKS, N.D.– Health officials host a meeting to talk about a proposal to combat an increase of Hepatitis C in Grand Forks County.

Between 2017 and 2018 there has been a 78% increase in the rate of Hepatitis C in Grand Forks County.

But a proposal for a syringe service program could be the intervention that brings those numbers down.

“We always kind of knew that this was something we needed to consider, and when we got new data regarding the prevalence of Hepatitis C in Grand Forks county, particularly the 78% increase in the number of new cases, that’s when we knew we needed to take further steps,” said Michael Dulitz, Opioid Response Project Coordinator.

The proposed program could   give  people  a  safe place to dispose of used syringes and  offer safer injection education.

“The goal of the program is to reduce the prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis C in Grand Forks County and to provide positive social interaction with individuals who use substances in hopes of helping them to reduce their use or get them into treatment,” added Dulitz.

“It’s critically important to get public input, otherwise the public feels sometimes that things are being done that they are totally unaware of, and it’s important to give people an opportunity to come out, get information, reliable legitimate information, as opposed to things they hear on the street,” said Brad Gibbens of Grand Forks.

“We want to be as transparent as possible when we are setting up this program and we want the community to know that we are putting it together, so they are well aware of it before it starts. We want people to have the opportunity to provide input and we can adjust based on the input we receive,” added Dulitz.

If the proposal is implemented, it would become the fifth syringe service program in the state, along with Fargo, Mandan, Minot and Valley City.

“It’s a little bit easier knowing that other programs exist in the state, so that made the process a little easier because we could go and visit them, find out what worked for them, what improvements they made after they started and things like that,” added Dulitz.

“It’s important to give people options, give people hope, and I think something like this is a productive thing for us to be doing,” added Gibbens.

If everything goes according to their plan, the new program could be up and running by October of this year.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News