Deadline Nears for Decision on Indiana Needle-Exchange Bill

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana lawmakers are faced with a looming deadline over whether to legalize needle-exchanges in parts of the state at highest risk for HIV outbreaks.

A bill that would allow needle-exchange programs like the one Governor Mike Pence has temporarily allowed in Scott County has sparked tensions over the value of providing drug users with clean needles to prevent disease transmission. Scott County has seen 135 new cases of HIV since December.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller (ZEL'-ur) is urging lawmakers to pass the legislation, saying it would “curb rampant needle-sharing.''

But the Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys calls the measure bad public policy.

Studies by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown needle-exchange programs don't increase drug use and can help reduce the spread of HIV.