A public health emergency has been declared in Marion County amid surging hepatitis C cases in Indianapolis that officials hope to combat with a needle-exchange.
The county’s health department director, Virginia Caine, declared the health emergency Thursday. She said intravenous drug use is largely behind a 1,000 percent increase in hepatitis C cases the county experienced between 2013 and 2017.
Caine proposed starting a needle-exchange program that would provide IV drug users with clean syringes to prevent needle-sharing that spreads diseases.
She said the program would combat rising hepatitis C cases, prevent a potential surge in HIV cases and “will save lives.”
City-County Council President Vop Osili said the council will consider the needle-exchange proposal on May 21.
The health department will host three public hearings on the proposal.