Indiana counties must fund needle exchanges sans state help

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CONNERSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Four Indiana counties are operating needle exchanges following the state’s worst-ever HIV outbreak.

But they’re doing so with funding largely from nonprofits, foundations and donations because Indiana lawmakers banned state funding from going to the programs that provide intravenous drug users with clean syringes.

Eastern Indiana’s Fayette County turned to the Comer Family Foundation and the Washington-based advocacy group AIDS United to get $23,000 for its exchange to combat a local hepatitis C outbreak.

Public health nurse Paula Maupin says that’s enough for now, but once participation reaches the 75 to 100 IV drug users she expects, she says the program will “burn through that money pretty quick.”

State Rep. Ed Clere authored last year’s legislation allowing the exchanges. He says the ban was needed for the law to pass.

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