- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - A Delaware County prosecutor urged county officials to oppose the organization of a needle exchange program, saying he believes the effort to decrease HIV infections was outweighed by risk of those needles being used to cook and use heroin.

The Star Press (https://tspne.ws/2oM4o71 ) reports council members unanimously authorized an attorney to draft a resolution opposing a needle exchange program following prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold’s presentation of Madison County’s needle exchange kit. The package included fresh needles, condoms, saline for injections, small heroin “cookers” with twist-tie handles and a bio-hazard container for used needles.

“This is enabling,” Arnold said. “There are only two things missing: heroin and a lighter.”

Arnold cited a report from the Governor’s Task Force on Drug Enforcement, Treatment and Prevention which found while needle sharing declined 85 percent between visits to needle exchange centers, participants reported injecting drugs more often.

Much of Indiana has seen an increase in heroin usage in recent years. Emergency Management director said the community sees “one to three” overdoses each day, “which is down from a couple of months ago.”

Heroin users sharing needles has led to an increase in HIV. Needle exchange programs aim to reduce the spread of infectious diseases by providing clean syringes in an effort to discourage needle sharing.

The Legislature passed a bill this month allowing counties to start needle-exchange programs without state approval. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill Wednesday.

Nine of Indiana’s 92 counties have needle exchanges. They started after a 2015 HIV outbreak in Scott County.

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Information from: The Star Press, https://www.thestarpress.com

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