- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Indiana’s health commissioner has declared a public health emergency in Tippecanoe County, allowing local officials to start a needle-exchange program to curb the spread of hepatitis C and HIV.

The Indiana State Health Department says Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams declared the emergency Thursday, making the county the latest in Indiana to win permission to begin a needle exchange program following a southern Indiana HIV outbreak linked to intravenous drug use. At least eight other counties have such permission.

Adams said Tippecanoe County saw a nearly 50 percent increase in hepatitis C cases between 2014 and 2015. That can indicate widespread intravenous drug use.

Needle exchanges provide clean syringes to intravenous drug users to prevent needle-sharing that spreads hepatitis C, HIV and other diseases.

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