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Indiana to Streamline Needle Exchange Program

Senate gives final approval to bill letting counties launch programs without waiting for state's OK, bill headed to Governor's desk.

Indiana will make it easier for counties to launch needle-exchange programs.

The state has already approved needle exchanges in eight counties to stop the spread of hepatitis and HIV. Governor Holcomb asked for the new law to let counties do it on their own. Several senators say they at first shared the misgivings of opponents who say the bill encourages heroin abuse. But they say the programs halt the spread of disease to health workers, addicts' sex partners, and other non-drug users. Health officials credit the current syringe program with halting the Scott County HIV outbreak which led to the program's creation.

 Indianapolis Senator Jean Breaux says syringe programs actually make addicts more likely to seek treatment to break free of their habit.

The 32-16 vote in the Senate sends the bill to Holcomb for his signature.

(Photo: backpack555/Thinkstock)

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