Scott County, Ind. officials want to keep needle exchange progra - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Scott County, Ind. officials want to keep needle exchange program going for additional year

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Scott County, Indiana, wants its needle exchange program to keep running even after the governor's executive order expires.

Health officials say 150 people have now tested positive for HIV. One-hundred and forty-nine cases are confirmed. One is a preliminary positive.

A needle exchange program has been up and running the past few weeks to try and contain the spread.

Public health nurse Brittany Combs says they've taken in almost 7,000 dirty needles and given out more than 10,000 clean ones.

Local health officials are calling the program a success and want it to keep going. A new state law allows needle exchange programs to operate in counties that meet certain criteria.

Combs is hoping the county can take advantage of this and extend the program for another year.

"We actually already had things in place," Combs said. "As soon as he signed it, we were ready to go. We've already been to the commissioners and they have a meeting set up, which is what we have to do. Yesterday, we got the health board to all sign a paper to agree to it. Now we have to do the commissioners meeting and then we'll do the public hearing and then we'll be set to go, hopefully for a year." 

State health officials say, so far, 18 people from Scott County have gotten into in-patient treatment and they hope to increase that number. 

Officials also say LifeSpring Health Services has cut the wait time from up to 12 weeks to two or three.

"We have a separate team within this response that is looking at how we can place patients that require detox beds into those beds," deputy health commissioner Jennifer Walthall. "We have reduced the number of contacts remaining to be traced significantly. A total of 385 of 411 contacts are now complete."

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