Syringe exchange program

Joe Flintham
https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeflintham/

A governor-approved bill that would give Indiana counties and municipalities the ability to set up their own syringe exchanges passed its first hurtle, clearing the House Committee on Public Health Wednesday afternoon.

Currently, local and regional governments need the state health commissioner to declare a public health emergency before counties can establish their syringe exchange programs. The new bill still does not allow the state to fund the programs, and communities would still have the option to establish exchanges through the state approval method.

Steve Burns / WTIU

Tippecanoe County officials may be coalescing around the idea of using a mobile unit to house the county’s recently-approved syringe services program.

Chris Morisse Vizza/WBAA News

The Tippecanoe County Commissioners voted Monday to endorse a plan to establish a syringe exchange and services program aimed at reducing the spread of hepatitis C among intravenous drug users.

But Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski vented his frustrations after the vote.

One by one, doctors, addiction treatment professionals, researchers, church leaders and a captain from the Fort Wayne police department stepped to the podium to tell the commissioners why Tippecanoe County should create a syringe services program.

lyd_f / https://www.flickr.com/photos/30317380@N08/

Since 2015, Indiana counties have established syringe-exchange programs with the hopes of curbing the spread of HIV and hepatitis.

The latest county to establish such a service — Allen County — has decided to call the program something different, a move other counties in Indiana are considering as well.

The Indiana bill legalizing needle exchanges refers to the services as syringe exchange programs, and most counties’ terminology has followed suit. But earlier this month, Allen County announced the establishment of a syringe services program.

Steve Burns / WTIU

Both of Indiana’s gubernatorial front-runners say the state’s current system for fighting drug-related disease needs an overhaul.

When it comes to state-funded syringe exchange programs, both lean toward reforming the current system, though one more emphatically than the other.

Even though state-approved syringe exchange programs were made legal last year in an effort to curb the spread of drug-related disease, the state doesn’t offer assistance to those programs. And the law explicitly bans using state money to purchase the needles themselves.

deepfruit / https://www.flickr.com/photos/slippek/

More than a year after the first one was established, more than one thousand people are now enrolled in Indiana’s several county-run needle exchange programs, and the Indiana State Department of Health is crediting them as one of the most effective ways to combat the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

Courtesy Governor Mike Pence

Indiana governor Mike Pence will be in the spotlight tonight as he delivers the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention.

In selecting Pence as his running mate, presidential candidate Donald Trump more than once has touted the corporate tax cuts implemented during Pence’s administration to attract new investment and create jobs.

Pence also has impacted health issues during his nearly four years as governor and 12 years in Congress. 

Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Jake Harper looks at the governor’s record on health policy in Indiana.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Media

An increase in the number of hepatitis C infections attributable to injection drug use has prompted Tippecanoe County Health Officer Jeremy Adler to start developing a plan to stem the spread of the virus.

County data show 61 percent of new hepatitis C cases last year occurred in people who had injected drugs, an increase from 50 percent in 2014, and 37 percent in 2013.

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