needle exchange program

City of West Lafayette

If it seems to you that Tippecanoe County leaders have been talking forever about starting a needle exchange program, that’s just an illusion – it’s only been about eight months since the first approvals began.

But if it has seemed to you that in recent months support for such a program from some local leaders has waned, that may be true.

Nathan Forget / flickr.com/photos/nathanf/

Even though the number of hepatitis C cases in Tippecanoe County has doubled since 2013, location concerns keep blocking implementation of a syringe exchange program that could help stem the spread of disease.

That was the message from a Wednesday night meeting in Lafayette on the county’s battle against addiction and its ancillary health issues.

Indiana State Department of Health Chief Medical Consultant Dr. Joan Duwve  says hepatitis C is much easier to transmit than HIV, which is another concern that follows opioid epidemics.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski has been among the chorus of voices saying his city can’t, as the saying goes, “arrest its way out of a drug problem.”

But now that the Indiana General Assembly has made Tippecanoe County a pilot site for a new opioid treatment program, will the mayor be more bullish on that as a solution than he has been on the idea of a needle exchange? We put that question to him this week on WBAA’s Ask The Mayor.

hitthatswitch / https://www.flickr.com/photos/ringai/

The Indiana Senate has sent a bill allowing counties to start their own syringe exchanges to the governor for his signature. Current law says programs must be approved by the state health department.

The state approved its first needle exchange in 2015 after a serious HIV epidemic, fueled by intravenous drug use, broke out in downstate Scott County.

Advocates of county approval, including State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, say the bill eliminates a time-wasting step, and that local governments know best the health needs of their counties.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

In his state of the city address this week, Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski touted reductions in many different categories of crime.

But publicly available data created by the Lafayette Police Department doesn’t seem to jibe with the mayor’s announced statistics.

This week on WBAA’s Ask The Mayor, we ask him to explain how his numbers are so different from the ones the public can see.


Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Listeners to WBAA’s Ask The Mayor know we’ve spent considerable time in the last couple months talking to the mayors of Lafayette and West Lafayette about the possibility of a needle exchange in the county.

This week on our conversation with Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, a listener wants to know where the mayor gets whatever information makes him believe that handing out clean syringes to injection drug users will increase crime in a city that’s desperately trying to keep criminals in check.

City of West Lafayette

It’s no secret the city of West Lafayette aims to look significantly different in the next few years.

The State Street redesign gets underway in earnest this year, with a major portion of the road set to close this summer. But what about the buildings along the road?

City leaders have approved several new mixed-use developments – some of them so tall they may need special clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration before ground is broken.

Steve Burns / WTIU

The lead architect of Tippecanoe County’s proposed needle exchange program says he hopes to work through multiple problems simultaneously in 2017.

County Health Officer Jeremy Adler admits he’ll have to find a way to pay for the program and secure the blessing of Lafayette’s mayor and police chief at the same time.

Gretchen Frazee / indianapublicmedia.org/news

Tippecanoe County has become Indiana’s ninth with a declared public health emergency – an intermediate step in establishing a needle exchange in the county.

State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams Thursday approved the request from Tippecanoe County Health Officer Jeremy Adler, based primarily on increased numbers of hepatitis C cases linked to IV drug use.

The city of Lafayette has battled a spike in major crimes in the past several years, and elected officials including Mayor Tony Roswarski  have attributed the additional crime to a corresponding drug use epidemic.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Despite objections from Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, the Tippecanoe County Commissioners have voted to move ahead with trying to create a needle exchange program in the county. This week, on WBAA’s Ask The Mayor, we ask Mayor Roswarski if there’s a way his community can fight both the spread of communicable disease and the rise in drug-related crime it’s seen in the past couple years.

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