JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) - Officials in Clark County, Indiana have approved extending its needle exchange program aimed at curbing the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV among intravenous drug users.

Clark County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday night to extend the program for another year. The program now will be up for renewal at the end of August 2018.

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Kevin Burke says he believes the discovery of new cases of hepatitis C, a disease spread through sharing needles, shows the exchange is justified. The newspaper says about half of the 150 participants have hepatitis C.

Burke says officials plan to work on ways to improve the return rate of syringes. Of the nearly 16,000 clean syringes distributed, the exchange has collected almost 8,000.

Another Indiana county earlier this week decided to go in the opposite direction. The Madison County Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to bar county funds, donations and gifts from supporting the program that provides IV drug users with clean syringes and collects used ones to reduce needle-sharing that spreads hepatitis C and HIV.

Anderson's exchange began in 2015 after the county's commissioners declared a public health emergency.

Officials in Scott County recently took steps to continue funding its needle exchange program in Austin after noticing a drop in HIV and hepatitis C cases. 


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