Heroin use not prompting needle exchange in northwest Indiana

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By: Associated Press

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — Two northwestern Indiana counties that have long faced drug abuse troubles aren’t dealing with the spread of diseases among intravenous drug users that’s prompted the start of needle-exchange programs elsewhere in the state.

Health officials say Lake and Porter counties had fewer than five new cases of hepatitis C last year. Spikes in cases of that disease have led state officials to approve needle-exchange programs in three counties in southern or central Indiana.

Porter County Health Department nurse Jennifer Harkel tells the Post-Tribune that the department provides testing but hasn’t seen an increase in disease to seek a needle-exchange program.

That’s even though Porter County has recorded more than 60 heroin-related deaths over the past five years.

This story has been corrected to remove erroneous information that state officials are reviewing a request for a needle exchange program from a fourth county.

Information from: Post-Tribune, http://posttrib.chicagotribune.com/