Indiana health official: Needle exchanges save lives, money

FILE - In this April 21, 2015 file photo, signs are displayed for the needle exchange program at the Austin Community Outreach Center, in Austin, Ind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Health Commissioner Jerome Adams says needle exchange programs have saved lives and money as public health officials try to combat the state’s opioid crisis.

Eight Indiana counties currently have exchanges in place that allow drug users to swap dirty needles for clean ones.

Adams said Thursday that the exchanges “aren’t pretty.” But he adds that they prevent the spread of HIV and other serious diseases that drug abusers can spread by sharing needles.

An exchange in Scott County helped stop the spread of HIV after 219 people contracted the virus. That can save money in health care costs.

Adams says 2,800 people have used the syringe programs to date. Participants can be tested for disease and get referrals for health insurance, social services, and treatment.

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