Indiana Needle-Exchange Bill would Require Proof of Epidemic

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana lawmakers are nearing final decisions on a proposal to legalize needle-exchange programs following an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana.

Health officials say 143 people who either live in Scott County or have ties to the area have tested positive for HIV.

The proposal would allow an area with high rates of hepatitis C and injection drug use to seek approval from the state health commissioner to launch a needle exchange. Local officials also would have to prove they are in the midst of an epidemic.

Bill sponsor Rep. Ed Clere said Tuesday that the proposal would incorporate law enforcement and drug treatment and screening programs into disease prevention.

But he says he's concerned that the criteria to create a program could prevent some at-risk counties from participating.