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Lawrence County Asking State For Needle Exchange Approval

Jim Grey

After months of discussion, Lawrence County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to ask the state to approve a syringe exchange program.

The Lawrence County Health Department declared a public health emergency in February, in response to increasing rates of HIV and Hepatitis C, linked to intravenous drug use.

But public health nurse Sherry Lawson says county commissioners later expressed concern.

“They were okay with emergency, declaring the emergency, but when they discovered what was actually in the program, they weren’t comfortable with that,” Lawson says.

Health officials hosted additional public meetings to continue the discussion.

Fellow at the Rural Center for AIDS and STD prevention Carrie Lawrence testified at the public meetings in favor of the syringe exchange.

“I think a lot of it is learning why we’re doing it and then how to do it and do it in a way that’s going to be most effective,” Lawrence says.

State law prohibits state funding for needle exchanges. Lawrence County will use the same model as the already-approved Monroe County needle exchange, working with the Indiana Recovery Alliance to fund and staff the mobile unit.

Commissioners will now send the proposal to the state health department for approval.

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