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Public Health Emergency Declared In Tippecanoe County
Updated December 16, 2016 9:00 AM | Filed under: Health
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., Thursday declared a public health emergency for Tippecanoe County, allowing the local health department to establish a syringe exchange program as part of a broader "Gateway to Hope" program that is designed to reduce the spread of hepatitis C. The declaration of public health emergency will run through December 14, 2017.

"Tippecanoe County saw a nearly 50 percent increase in hepatitis C cases between 2014 and 2015, which can indicate widespread injection drug use and be a precursor to other diseases, such as HIV," said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. "While we understand that some community members have concerns about these programs, we have seen in other counties how syringe exchanges can help stop the spread of HIV and hepatitis C and improve a community's health by connecting residents to health insurance, treatment and other services."

Senate Enrolled Act 461 made syringe exchange programs legal in Indiana for the first time, under certain circumstances. The law lays out a set of procedural and substantive requirements that local communities must meet in order for an emergency declaration to be considered by the state health commissioner.

Steps in the process for local communities:

Local health officer must:

  • Declare that an epidemic of hepatitis C or HIV exists
  • Determine that it is primarily transmitted through IV drug use
  • Deem that a syringe exchange program is medically appropriate as part of a comprehensive response

County commissioners must:

  • Hold a public hearing
  • Take official action adopting the declarations of the local health officer (above)
  • Describe other actions taken regarding the epidemic that have proven ineffective
  • Request a public health emergency declaration from the state

By declaring this public health emergency, the state health commissioner concurs with the declarations of the local health officer and county commissioners. By law, specific aspects of design and implementation of the program are left to local officials.

Dr. Adams has previously declared public health emergencies in Clark, Lawrence, Madison, Monroe, Fayette, Wayne, Allen and Scott counties.

For questions regarding the Tippecanoe County syringe exchange program, contact Dr. Jeremy P. Adler, the Tippecanoe County health officer, at (765) 423-9767.

For important health and safety information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.



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