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Impact of ending needle-exchange program in Madison County

Posted at 9:17 PM, Nov 01, 2017

MADISON COUNTY, Ind. – Three months after Madison County officials voted to end its needle-exchange program, those living in the area are starting to see the impact.

The program, aimed at providing clean needles to addicts, in hopes of curbing HIV/AIDs, was abruptly ended in August after officials questioned its effectiveness.

"It's hard. It's hard,” said Stephanie Grimes with the Madison County Health Department. "Because things were established with those people and the health department became a place where they could come because they trusted us with services, and that was built and now it's just gone."

Grimes said the 550 people who participated in the program still seek assistance. 

“It's hurting the community because people are sharing needles and spreading to somebody else that don't know they got it. It isn’t going to stop,” said Garnell Hood.

In June, County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said the program was “illegal” and gave addicts access to tools that assisted them in the overdose process.

Cummings said arrests for possession of syringes are down this year. 

"I haven't had a single complaint about a needle in a store or parking lot. It was virtually daily we were getting those kind of complaints,” he said. “When you dispense 237,000 needles and you say you get back 110,000, that's 127,000  unaccounted-for needles in our community. And you wonder why 4 year olds are getting stuck with heroin needles at parks and anywhere people go on our community. It was a big problem."

Eight Indiana counties continue to operate needle-exchange programs. 

PREVIOUSMadison County Council votes to end needle exchange program

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