A syringe service program is slated to open Friday, Oct. 18, in downtown Grand Forks.

The program, “The Any Positive Change Project,” will provide drug users with clean syringes at no cost in an effort to stop the spread of disease and eventually encourage treatment.

Grand Forks County had a 78% increase in the number of new Hepatitis C cases from 2017 to 2018, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. The rise was linked to injection drug use, the department said.

Syringe service programs have been proven to reduce the spread of diseases and encourage drug users to enter recovery programs, according to the Center for Disease Control. The Grand Forks program will allow users to exchange used needles for clean syringes, provide HIV and hepatitis C testing, offer free naloxone and give referrals for treatment.

There are similar programs in Fargo, Mandan, Minot and Valley City. The program’s staff and administrative costs are funded through a federal opioid grant and the injecting equipment is purchased with private donations.

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The program opens at 1 p.m. Friday on the third floor Grand Forks Public Health office in the county building, at 151 S. Fourth St. Services are offered 3 to 5 p.m. Mondays, 8 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, 3 to 5 p.m. Thursdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Fridays.