Madison County Receives Permission To Establish Needle Exchange

Jun 24, 2015

Credit ZaldyImg / https://www.flickr.com/photos/8499561@N02/

Indiana Health Commissioner Jerome Adams has declared a public health emergency in Madison County, allowing local officials to create needle exchange program to reduce the spread of hepatitis C.

The declaration Tuesday makes Madison the second county in the state to win approval for needle exchanges.

Scott County established one to battle an HIV outbreak.

Madison County Health Department spokeswoman Kellie Kelly says her county has had at least 130 new cases of hepatitis C this year, compared with 130 for all of 2014 and 70 new cases during 2013.

"We're seeing much younger people getting exposed," says Kelly. "My caseload includes people in their teens."

Legislation signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Mike Pence makes needle exchange programs legal in Indiana for the first time after the state has declared a local public health emergency.