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Indiana health commissioner: Needle exchanges a success

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Indiana's health commissioner told lawmakers needle exchanges were effective in combating the state's worst-ever HIV outbreak.

Scott County in southern Indiana saw about 22 new cases a week at the height of the 2015 outbreak. Health Commissioner Jerome Adams told the Senate health committee Wednesday that's dropped to between one and three new cases a week.

Indiana prohibited needle exchanges when the outbreak began primarily among intravenous drug users. But lawmakers passed a law in 2015 allowing the exchange programs with state approval.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb wants to roll back that law. He says local officials should be able to approve the exchanges.

Needle exchanges provide intravenous drug users with clean syringes and collect used ones to reduce needle-sharing and the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases.

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