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Scott County Commissioners Vote To Extend Needle Exchange Program

Steven Depolo

Health workers continue to fight an HIV outbreak in the Southeastern part of the state.

As of Monday, 158 people had tested positive for the virus, mostly due to injection drug abuse.

To help stem the spread of the virus, health workers in Scott County have been operating a temporary needle exchange, where drug users can trade in dirty needles for clean ones.

The county is one step closer to making that exchange more permanent.

Scott County Commissioners met today to hold a public hearing on keeping the needle exchange long-term, where citizens had a chance to voice their opinions. Only nobody did.

With no one opposed, the commissioners passed a motion 3 to zero, to authorize the needle exchange for a year. Brittany Combs, the county’s public health nurse, was surprised by the lack of opposition to the exchange.

“I was expecting at least a few people from the community to come and maybe speak against it. Just because we’ve heard some things," says Combs. "But of course most of the things are on facebook, and people will say whatever they want on FB and never tell you to your face. But that’s kind of what we were worried about, but we had plenty of back up here today. Lots and lots of people came to support us and that’s what we wanted the commissioners especially to see, that a lot of people are behind this.” 

The public hearing was the last step the county needed to take before the request goes before State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams.

Adams is expected to authorize the year-long exchange. The emergency order currently allowing the exchange to operate is set to expire this weekend.    

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