County renews its syringe exchange program

By The Associated Press

ANDERSON — A central Indiana county's needle exchange has been renewed, months after its commissioners failed to extend the program that aims to prevent the spread of diseases among intravenous drug users.

The Madison County commissioners approved the exchange's renewal for two years on a 2-1 vote Tuesday after only one resident voice opposition during a public hearing.

The county's exchange had been operated by Aspire Health Indiana until last June, when it was placed in limbo after the commissioners did not vote on extending the program, The Herald Bulletin reported.

Julie Foltz, director of infectious disease for Aspire Indiana Health, said the nonprofit would resume the program on Wednesday.

Needle exchange programs provide people with clean syringes to discourage needle sharing and reduce the spread of disease.

Jeremy Turner with the Indiana Department of Health said needle exchanges help Indiana reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

Madison County’s needle exchange began in 2015 and was initially overseen by the county’s health department. But it was temporarily shut down in 2017 when the county council voted that no taxpayer dollars could be used for the program.

Aspire Health Indiana then took over the program in 2018, but it was placed in limbo after the commissioners failed to vote by June 5, 2020, on the program's renewal.

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