Marion County could soon get a needle exchange program

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marion County could soon get a needle exchange program, after the county's public health department called for it Thursday morning. 

Virginia A. Caine, the director of the Marion County Public Health Department, declared a public health emergency after an increase in hepatitis C cases.

Marion County had a 1,000 percent increase in hepatitis C cases from 2013 to 2017, Caine said.

"Such a program is medically necessary and will save lives," Caine said.

The program would ensure injection drug users would have access to clean needles to prevent infection, keep used needles off the street and get individuals more health services.

City-County Council President Vop Osili said the needle exchange would come at no additional investment from taxpayers. 

"As a councilor, you can understand how much that means to me," he said. 

The first step for a needle exchange program in a county is for the health department to declare an emergency. The next step is for the City-County Council to discuss the program on May 21.

There will be three public meetings for the public to learn about the potential needle exchange:

  • May 22 - 5:30 p.m. City-County Building: 200 E. Washington Street Room 260
  • May 31 - 6-8 p.m. Marion County Public Health Department: 3838 N. Rural St. 1st Floor Conference Room
  • June 13 - 6-8 p.m. Marion County Public Health Department: 3838 N. Rural St. 1st Floor Conference Room

Watch the announcement in the video below. 

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