House Committee Approves Needle Exchange Bill, Attorney General Opposes
On Wednesday, Majority of the members of the Indiana House Public Health committee have agreed to extend the needle exchange programs across the state. The committee voted 11 to 1, despite Attorney General Curtis Hill's opposition.
The committee displays an effort to help stop HIV and Hepatitis-C from spreading among drug users. Through the House Bill 1438, county or municipalities will be allowed to set up a needle exchange program on their own without having the state declare a public health emergency.
Indiana Public Media reported that this is part of the new governor Eric Holcomb's promise to help counties establish a syringe exchange program much easier. With his support, the bill was moved through the legislature.
The current law states needle exchange programs have to be approved by a state health commissioner and requires the state to declare a public health emergency. With the bill passed, it is now eligible for a second reading and amendment.
Attorney General Curtis Hill expressed his doubts and concern about the bill citing out that needle exchange programs have morphed into distribution centers, asking the committee to be cautious about the decision.
In response to Curtis, Dr. Jerome Adams, State Health Commissioner said the programs in Scott County proved successful where 96 percent of the needles that were released come back in. It helps connect drug users to services that can help them get clean.
According to Fox59, one notable needle exchange program was in Scott County. It was reported to have 175 HIV cases from Dec. 2014 to July 2015. Drug users were allowed to exchange dirty needs for new ones.
The program aims to do much more than provide clean syringes by providing drug addiction treatment and referral information. The program also plans to provide education and teach and train drug users about overdose response and treatment.