By RICK CALLAHAN
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Indiana’s health commissioner has approved a one-year needle-exchange program for a rural county at the center of the state’s largest HIV outbreak.
Dr. Jerome Adams approved Scott County’s request Thursday to operate that exchange through May 24, 2016.
The county, about 30 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky, had been operating a temporary needle-exchange. It’s the first to receive state approval under a new state law that provides for exchanges if a community proves it’s facing an HIV or hepatitis C epidemic fueled by intravenous drug use.
State epidemiologist Pam Pontones says 160 people have tested positive for HIV since December in the outbreak tied to needle-sharing among IV drug users. Nearly all of those cases have been in Scott County, which typically has about five new HIV cases each year.