Central Indiana county's syringe exchange off to slow start

By The Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 30, 2015 at 2:10 p.m.



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ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — A syringe exchange program aimed at slowing the spread of hepatitis C in a central Indiana county is off to a disappointing start, health department officials there say.

Only three people have signed up for the program and a total of 54 needles were exchanged during the program's first month, Kellie Kelley, Madison County Health Department spokeswoman, told The Herald Bulletin (http://bit.ly/1LJXR5B ).

"It's absolutely disappointing," Kelley said. "We're working on building trust."

The needle exchange program was established to prevent the spread of hepatitis C and HIV, both of which can be contracted by contact with the blood of an infected person.

Kelley said local and state health officials were not surprised by the tepid early response. She said the start in Scott County, the first county to implement a needle exchange program, was also slow.

She said the mobile unit will move around the city and people can call to receive services. Kelley said the health department is receiving calls daily in which people are asking for details about the program, and officials are relying on those who call to be participants to bring other people with them.

There were 70 new cases of hepatitis C identified in Madison County in 2013 and the number nearly doubled to 130 last year. The county is on pace to match or surpass last year's levels.

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Information from: The Herald Bulletin, http://www.theheraldbulletin.com

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The Associated Press

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