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Indianapolis' new needle exchange will enlist mobile vehicle

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Marion County is launching a needle exchange program that will enlist a vehicle the size of a small school bus to combat Indianapolis' soaring hepatitis C rate by distributing clean syringes and collecting used ones.

The vehicle unveiled Wednesday by the county's health department will begin visiting two east side Indianapolis neighborhoods next week. But it could eventually make stops in other neighborhoods, based on recommendations by police and health officials.

Marion County's hepatitis C cases soared 1,000 percent between 2013 and 2017, mostly due to intravenous drug use tied to the opioid epidemic.

Public health director Dr. Virginia Caine says needle exchanges aim to reduce needle-sharing that can spread infectious diseases.

The Indianapolis Star reports that Marion County will become Indiana's ninth county with a needle exchange.