Wayne County takes steps toward needle-exchange program

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By: Associated Press

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) — An eastern Indiana county facing a rise in hepatitis cases has taken steps to get a needle-exchange program that was established under a new state law.

Wayne County Health Department executive director Eric Coulter says county health officer Dr. David Keller has declared a health emergency. Coulter says county commissioners have agreed to provide a letter backing a needle-exchange program.

The Palladium-Item reports the state health commissioner would have the final say on the request. The state law allowing needle exchanges, which provide IV drug users with clean syringes, was passed amid an HIV outbreak centered in Scott County.

Coulter says HIV infections are also up in Wayne County, though not as dramatically as hepatitis cases.

Indiana has approved needle exchanges in Scott, Madison and Fayette counties.

Information from: Palladium-Item, http://www.pal-item.com