Indiana drafting county profiles of HIV, hepatitis C rates

Effort aims to help officials detect outbreaks, determine eligibility for needle exchange programs.

State health officials are creating profiles of HIV and hepatitis C rates for all 92 Indiana counties to help local officials detect outbreaks of either disease and determine whether they can seek help under a new needle-exchange law, a top state disease expert said Wednesday.

State epidemiologist Pam Pontones told members of the Indiana State Department of Health's executive board that the agency hopes to quickly complete work on those profiles, which also will include intravenous drug use rates for each county.

Having that data will help county health officials determine whether they're facing an outbreak of either virus and — if it's tied to IV drug use — whether they can request state approval for a needle-exchange program to try to contain that outbreak, she said.

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