Public health emergency declared in Allen County

FILE - In this April 21, 2015 file photo, new needles which clients can get as part of the needle exchange program at the Austin Community Outreach Center are displayed in Austin, Ind. Indiana's health commissioner approved a one-year needle-exchange program Thursday, May 21, 2015, for a rural county at the center of the state's largest HIV outbreak, an epidemic that's being driven by needle-sharing among intravenous drug users. The southeastern Indiana county had been operating a temporary needle-exchange under an executive order signed by Gov. Mike Pence that will expire Sunday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – A public health emergency was declared in Allen County on Thursday morning.

According to a release from the Indiana State Department of Health, a public health emergency was declared to establish a syringe services program (SSP) in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

The Department of Health and Positive Resource Connection and Park Center will open the SSP in early November. It will be located at 519 Oxford Street in Fort Wayne.

The SSP will provide the following:

  • Clean needs
  • Clean sharps disposal containers
  • Free HIV and hepatitis C testing
  • Make referrals to treatment and other social services such as addiction services

The Board of Health authorized the department to begin establishing an SSP in Allen County because of the significant increase of HIV and hepatitis C in 2015, as well as part of an opioid strategic plan.