Indiana News

Southern Indiana county takes 1st step for needle-exchange

BEDFORD, Ind. (AP) – A southern Indiana county is moving toward state approval for a needle exchange program to combat its hepatitis C epidemic.

Lawrence County health officer Dr. Alan Smith declared a county public health emergency Thursday, citing hepatitis C cases spread primarily through intravenous drug use.

The Times-Mail reports Smith says a needle-exchange program “is medically appropriate as part of a comprehensive public health response” to the epidemic. He says a public forum will be held on the need for the health emergency.

Smith’s declaration is the first of several steps the county must take before seeking the state health commissioner’s approval to operate a needle-exchange intended to combat the spread of disease by reducing needle-sharing among users.

Scott, Madison, Fayette and Monroe counties have won state approval for needle exchanges.