Declaration permits needle exchanges in Monroe County

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's health commissioner has declared a public health emergency in Bloomington and Monroe County, allowing local officials to establish a needle-exchange program to curb the spread of hepatitis C.

Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams declared the emergency Tuesday, making Monroe County the fourth Indiana county to win permission to establish needle exchanges following an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana linked to intravenous drug use. The other counties are Fayette, Madison and Scott counties.

Adams says Monroe County is experiencing a hepatitis C outbreak tied to intravenous drug use.

The Indiana State Department of Health says the Monroe County declaration runs through Dec. 21, 2016.

Legislation approved by the General Assembly last year allows needle exchanges once the state health commissioner declares a public health emergency.

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