- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana lawmakers have approved a measure that would allow high-risk counties to create needle exchange programs following an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana.

Health officials say 89 people who either live in Scott County or have ties to it have tested positive for HIV.

House members voted 54-39 Monday to allow counties with high rates of hepatitis C to establish needle exchange programs. Such high rates are a key indicator of needle sharing.

Indiana prohibits needle exchange programs, but Gov. Mike Pence authorized a short-term program in Scott County.

Supporters say it would help prevent diseases from spreading in all high-risk areas by allowing people to exchange used needles for clean ones.

Opponents say lawmakers should first see how Scott County’s program works before allowing it elsewhere.

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