- Associated Press - Thursday, May 17, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A public health emergency has been declared in Marion County amid surging hepatitis C cases in Indianapolis that officials hope to combat with a needle-exchange.

The county’s health department director, Virginia Caine, declared the health emergency Thursday. She said intravenous drug use is largely behind a 1,000 percent increase in hepatitis C cases the county experienced between 2013 and 2017.

Caine proposed starting a needle-exchange program that would provide IV drug users with clean syringes to prevent needle-sharing that spreads diseases.

She says the program would combat rising hepatitis C cases, prevent a potential surge in HIV cases and “will save lives.”

City-County Council President Vop Osili says the council will consider the needle-exchange proposal on May 21.

The health department will host three public hearings on the proposal.

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