Clark County plans to start the Indiana needle-exchange program in response to a control the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV in the area. The program is set to begin on January 26, 2017 after months of struggling to find funding.
The primary catalyst for the creation of the program was a dangerous HIV outbreak in the neighboring area, Scott County in 2015. The state health commissioner then declared a public health emergency, allowing to start the exchange to help reduce possibility of contagion all over the region.
However, during that time, according to officials, Clark County was struggling financially to keep afloat health services, and so they were not able to participate in the program.
Finally, in October, they received a generous grant of $7,000 from the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis, Journal Gazette reports. This renewed the interest of the county to push through with the Indiana needle exchange program.
A law was first passed last year by legislators allowing approval for request of needle exchange programs after Indiana was hit with the worst HIV outbreak, originating from Scott County, infecting almost 190 people.
The majority of the counties in Indiana has applied for the program, nine of which have already been granted approval. However, they can't easily implement the program due to lack of funding. They have to scramble for donations for non-profit organizations, foundations, and health grants to have the resources to fully run the program.
According to Tribstar, Clark County will begin the program at Jeffersonville site. The program will be open every Thursday to distribute supplies. However, county health officer David Burke hopes to extend availability for two days and also at other locations.
Burke also says that the program also has plans for drug abuse treatment and screening tests. He hopes that the Indiana needle exchange program will not only prevent the spread of communicable diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV, but will also help stop the drug abuse epidemic.