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Needle exchange program approved for Allen County in midst of public health emergency

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana State Department of Health declared a public health emergency for Allen County, allowing for the county to set up a needle exchange program to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

In 2015, as a result of a significant increase in HIV and hepatitis C cases in Allen County, the Board of Health authorized the Department of Health to begin the process of establishing a needle exchange program part of an opioid strategic plan.

Today, October 6, 2016, they approved the department’s plan.

The Department of Health, including community partners Positive Resource Connection and Park Center, will open the needle exchange program in early November at 519 Oxford Street in Fort Wayne.

Along with providing new, clean needles and sharps disposal containers, the program will also provide free HIV and hepatitis C testing, and make referrals to treatment and other social services such as addiction services.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these programs are an effective way to minimize transmission of hepatitis C and HIV.

Lawrence County is also working on a needle exchange, according to the Times-Mail. The Indiana State Department of Health approved the county’s request last week, and county officials hope to have the program up and running by Nov. 1.

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