ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) – Madison County Health officials said no one used their needle exchange program on its first day, but workers are prepared to help addicts when they do show up.
The goal of the exchange is to prevent the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV.
Health officials are not disclosing the locations of the needle exchanges to reporters. Workers said if they did reveal the locations, it might deter addicts that fear being targeted by police or the media.
Officials said care providers and addicts know the exchange locations, and they’ll spread the word to people who need it. People can also call the health department to get more information.
The four needle exchange locations in Madison County also offer HIV and Hepatitis C testing and drug abuse counseling. Some of the resources will be provided by Aspire Indiana, a nonprofit mental health center.
Julie Foltz is HIV Program Manager for Aspire Indiana.
“The more and more testing we do, we’re identifying people who are acknowledging their injection drug use,” Foltz said.
Foltz said Aspire employees will spread the word to patients on where to find the exchanges.
“I have not talked to one person who is an injection drug user who doesn’t think this is a good idea.”
But Anderson local Kim Bova fears giving addicts clean needles will only enable drug users.
“I don’t think the needles should be able to get into anybody’s hands. It should be only if you have a doctorate or nursing degree, I think those are the only people that should be able to deal with needles,” Bova said.
In Scott County, more than 25,000 needles have been handed out since March. Health officials there said the exchange is one reason the HIV outbreak in southeastern Indiana has slowed down.