It's the fourth county in Indiana to receive approval for needle exchange program from state health officials by Shari Rudavsky,

Monroe County has become the fourth in the state to receive approval from the Indiana State Department of Health to start a needle exchange program.

Higher-than-normal rates of hepatitis C led the Monroe County Health Department to ask the state to OK a clean syringe program as one way to combat the problem.

In a request sent to the Health Department in August, Monroe County Health Commissioner Thomas Sharp said that hepatitis C cases in his county have risen by more than 50 percent in the past five years. A little less than 70 percent of new cases of hepatitis C seen at IU Health Bloomington Hospital are attributed to IV drug use, he wrote.

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