Public health emergency declared for Madison County, syringe exchange proposal approved citing epidemic levels of Hepatitis C

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 23, 2015) — Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams declared a public health emergency for Madison County Tuesday. This declaration allows the county health department to establish a syringe exchange program for the purposes of reducing the spread of Hepatitis C.

Dr. Adams released this statement:

“Madison County officials led a discussion with their community, and they submitted a detailed analysis of their Hepatitis C epidemic and their plan to combat it. I am confident that a syringe exchange program will be operated as part of a comprehensive public health response in Madison County. The State will be available to offer technical assistance.”

Syringe exchange programs were made legal in Indiana for the first time earlier this year. The law lays out a set of procedural and substantive requirements that local communities must meet in order for an emergency declaration to be considered by the state health commissioner.

These are the steps that must be taken:

  • Local health officer declares
    • Epidemic of Hep-C or HIV
    • Primarily transmitted through IV drug use
    • A syringe exchange program is medically appropriate as part of a comprehensive response
  • County Commissioners act
    • Hold a public hearing
    • Take official action adopting the declarations of the local health officer (above)
    • Describe other actions taken regarding the epidemic that have proven ineffective
    • Request a public health emergency declaration

The Indiana State Department of Health received Madison County’s request on Wednesday, June 17. Madison County is the second county in which a public health emergency has been declared. Dr. Adams declared Indiana’s first public health emergency in Scott County in May.

No federal or state funding is provided for syringe exchange programs.

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