SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) -- A southern Indiana community rocked by the HIV epidemic will continue its needle exchange program after the Scott County Commissioners voted to keep it going for two more years.

The vote came despite concerns about the program.

"If that person didn't have a card or wasn't in the program, then what they are doing is illegal, and in turn, they'd be arrested," said Scott County Commissioner Mike Jones. "They'd be arrested for having that needle we're giving them."

But in the end, proponents of the program prevailed.

"Two of three is what we needed to pass, is what happened," said Michelle Goodin, administrator for the Scott County Health Department. "It's unfortunate it wasn't a unanimous vote, but we will work together with our law enforcement and leadership to better educate and fix the issues that were brought up."

Among the concerns were gray areas of the law.

"We need to work with legislators to really get that confusion taken out, so it's not illegal to possess a syringe, and also participate in a syringe exchange program," said Goodin.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control said the needle exchange program was successful, and needle sharing has dropped by 52 percent. 

Scott County started the program after the HIV epidemic in 2015.

"Three years ago, when this HIV epidemic occurred, the HIV rate skyrocketed," said Jene Bridgewater, executive director of Scott County Partnership. "We were known internationally for very negative things, and that had an impact on our community."

With the needle exchange program, community leaders say they've seen a huge difference and the area is much safer.

"It really is counter-intuitive," said Bridgewater. "We have to keep our idea on, it's not about solving substance abuse problems, it's about harm reduction of HIV and HEP C and lowering those rates, so we're not having high numbers of people infected with HIV."  

Goodin also wants to create an advisory board of non-profits, law enforcement and public health officials so there can be a more united front on the issue.

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