News Sections
State Dept. Of Health Approves Lawrence Co. Needle-Exchange Program
Updated October 3, 2016 9:46 AM | Filed under: Health
 Print    Archive    RSS

(BEDFORD) - The Indiana State Department of Health Friday declared a public health emergency for Lawrence County, allowing the county's health department to establish a needle-exchange program in an effort to reduce the spread of hepatitis C.

The Indiana Recovery Alliance, a Bloomington-based nonprofit that operates Monroe County's needle-exchange program, will provide the same services in Lawrence County.

Along with providing new, clean needles and sharps disposal containers, the IRA distributes naloxone, the drug that reverses opioid overdoses, provides free HIV and hepatitis C testing, and makes referrals to treatment and other social services.

"The needle exchange ends up being a pretty small part of what we do," says Chris Abert, project coordinator for the Indiana Recovery Alliance.

Senate Enrolled Act 461 made syringe-exchange programs legal in Indiana for the first time under certain circumstances and requirements.

Public health emergencies previously have been declared in Monroe, Clark, Madison, Fayette, Wayne and Scott counties.

In July the Lawrence County Commissioners voted to implement a needle exchange program.

The county declared a state of emergency in February.

Lawrence County is among the top 15 counties in the state for the highest rate of Hepatitis C per 100,000 people. A third of the Lawrence County Jail population in a six month period of 2015 tested positive for Hepatitis C.

Lawrence County Health Officer Dr. Alan Smith says the Hep C rate per 100,000 increased to 112 percent or more than doubled from 2010 to 2014 because of intravenous drug use.

Since February, the Health Department is seeing 5 to 10 new cases of Hepatitis C a week. In the month of May, 8 out of the 9 inmates tested positive for the disease.

« Previous Article
Next Article »

 Print    Archive    RSS

Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to

Advertise with 1340 AM WBIW
Find more about Weather in Bedford, IN
Advertise with 1340 AM WBIW

1340 AM WBIW, Bedford's Place To Talk. Serving Lawrence and surrounding counties since 1948!

© 2019 Ad-Venture Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved. and Listen Live Powered by HPC

Advertise  |  Careers  |  Contests  |  About  |  Feedback  |  Public File