Marion County is the latest in Indiana to establish a syringe exchange program. The Indianapolis program adopted by the City-County Council Monday is in response to a hepatitis C outbreak.
The rise in cases, an estimated 1,000 new cases in 2017, prompted health officials to declare an epidemic last month.
The council unanimously approved the proposed syringe exchange program after a series of public meetings. Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, says they are going to be strategic with the new mobile syringe unit.
"We’re going to try and utilize data from Indianapolis police to look at the hot spots. We will look at ambulance data to see where people are having drug overdoses," says Caine.
The program will provides clean needles and opportunities for people to connect with treatment.
Caine says the mobile unit will be able to screen and refer.
"If they have hepatitis C, how to link for them to get treated, how to manage their HIV infections, and there are a lot of wonderful resources that are out there," says Caine.
Syringe exchange programs are an effective way to reduce the spread of infections associated with intravenous drug use.
Eight Indiana counties have syringe exchange programs.