INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Marion County Health Director explains a public health emergency for hepatitis C and suggests a needle exchange program.
The programs have a debate on the state, but if approved, Marion County would join seven other coutnies in Indiana with a working syringe exchange program.
"October 28 of last year is the last time I shot," a 31
She said she used meth and heroin for years, but Madison County's needle exchange program helped to get her on the road to recovery.
"I think it did because I was always the guy I wanted to help people with, and I lead someone I can really trust," she said.
Supporters of the programs say that they prevent hepatitis C and HIV transmission and act as a conduit for the care of participants.
Madison County had a program for about two years until its support was gutted.
"It made things a lot harder, as I said you have to share needles and then in the end with things you do not want and get around with hepatitis C, I do not like it because it's way too much for that Medication is, "said the former program participants.
The program in Madison is currently being transformed into a non-profit organization. Madison County Health Department Administrator Stephanie Grimes said while the program ran she was testing more people for the disease, but since it was drawn to funding, they do not have such a clear picture of hepatitis C cases.
"It was devastating in terms of getting people to test and then, once they were identified as a case, they brought them to primary health care, insurance and all the things that go along with management," said Grimes.
The hepatitis C problem is one of the reasons why dr. Virginia Caine, director of Marion County Health, wants to start a syringe exchange program. She said there were 1,000 new cases last year, with 86 percent of cases related to drug use.
"On average, we have about five cases of acute hepatitis C a year and then suddenly shoot at over 72 outbreaks and one epidemic with our acute hepatitis C cases," Caine said.
The State Department of Health said nationwide that there were 8,171 cases of chronic hepatitis C in 2016, the most recent definitive data.
ISDH said Allen Clark, Fayette, Monroe, Scott, Tippecanoe and Wayne County had operational syringe exchange programs. There were 4,952 registered participants in syringe exchange programs and more than 6,000 substance abuse and mental health recommendations in the state since December 20, 2016.
The Scottish Department of Health has completed its program in 2015 and says it has seen a decline in HIV and hepatitis C cases. It reports 247 hepatitis C cases in 2015 and 92 in 2016.
The Wayne County Health Department said it implements its program in 2016. It said they have a slight increase in cases of hepatitis C, but show testing for more people The program
But not everyone supports the idea of needle exchange programs.
"Our experience has shown that it is not as helpful to the process as many had hoped for, and a good look at it suggests that there are some serious risks to prove needle exchange in different communities," said Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.
Hill has already expressed concern over excessive needles in communities exchanging needles for drugs
"We were trying to work with the General Assembly. To try that you suggest, if you use these programs throughout the state There are some other parameters that need to be set up in order to be able to provide data to make sure that it does what you hope for. But it has not managed to get that kind of data and information and you have all sorts of problems regarding the availability of needles sanctioned by the government, "said Hill.  Next, the program will be presented to the Indianapolis City County Council on Monday, followed by public hearings in the coming weeks.