By Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois health officials say new HIV infection among drug users has fallen dramatically since 2003. That was when lawmakers passed a measure allowing people to buy a limited number of syringes without a prescription.

The Public Health Department says there are needle-exchange programs in Belleville, Champaign, Chicago, Kankakee and Springfield. The programs allow drug users to exchange used needles for sterile ones, in an effort to curb the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence overrode state law to authorize a short-term needle-exchange program in a rural county where more than six dozen HIV cases have been tied to intravenous drug use.

There is no such outbreak in Illinois. The Illinois health department also offers counseling and does HIV testing for those injecting illegal drugs.

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