JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Clark County's needle exchange program started Thursday.  

Clean needles will be handed out at the county's HIV/STD clinic on Akers Avenue in Jeffersonville. Clark County has 25 percent more AIDS cases and 30 percent more Hepatitis C cases than the state average.

Health officials blame those numbers on drug abusers sharing dirty needles. Dr. Kevin Burke with the Clark County Health Department says needle exchange programs help the community and the addicts. 

"One advantage of a syringe exchange program -- additional advantage -- is that you make it more likely that that person will go into a drug rehab program, which means that the IV drug use will tend to go down," Burke said. 

Clark County also saw a more than 50 percent increase in overdose deaths last year.

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