By Rachel Hoffmeyer
Monroe County will start a needle exchange program under a public health emergency declared Tuesday.
“Monroe County is experiencing an epidemic of hepatitis C tied to intravenous drug use,” said State Heath Commissioner Jerome Adams. “The syringe exchange is part of a comprehensive approach that will connect residents with treatment, healthcare and other services critical to improving their health and halting the spread of disease.”
The health emergency declaration in Monroe County will run until Dec. 21, 2016.
Syringe exchange programs became legal for the first time in Indiana earlier this year after Gov. Mike Pence signed a law authored by Sen. Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis, and sponsored by Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany. To launch a needle exchange program, community officials must convince the state it has a hepatitis C or HIV outbreak.
Monroe becomes the fourth county to fall under a public health emergency. Earlier this year, the state health commissioner declared public health emergencies in Fayette, Madison, and Scott counties.