Sometimes people get their facts twisted and blame the IRA for the HIV, Hep C and overdose syndemic, as well as improperly disposed syringes. Let’s set the record straight:
Between 2004 and 2014 (before the IRA) there was a:
400% increase in acute hepatitis C;
817% increase in admissions for injection of prescription opioids;
600% increase in admissions for heroin injection in young people.
Between 1999 and 2017, there has been a 400% increase in fatal overdose in Indiana.
In 2014 the state legislature increased the penalty for possession of a syringe because so many were being found improperly disposed. This is BEFORE there were syringe access programs in Indiana. The effort backfired, and fear of felony arrest is now the primary reason given for improper disposal.
In 2015, Scott County experienced the worst HIV epidemic in US history occurred. The cause was lack of access to clean syringes, due to increased criminalization in 2014.
The IRA started doing homeless outreach in 2014 to respond to these startling numbers. Experts agree that things will get worse before they get better, and will not start to turn around until 2021. Harm reduction is the most effective way to reduce death, transmission of disease and increased access to treatment, with over 30 years of peer reviewed evidence to back it up.
We have increased testing for Hep C and HIV in Monroe County, along with our partners at Monroe County Health Department and Positive Link HIV Services, so initial “increases” are normal. Over the next few years, we will see drops in HIV and Hepatitis C rates, likely up to an 80% decrease, thanks to the availability of methadone and buprenorphine, along with sterile supplies and harm reduction education, in our community.
While the rest of the state sees continued increases in fatal overdose, up to 571% in some counties, Monroe County has stood out in the WE ARE ACTUALLY DECREASING fatal overdose, 10% last year, 50% so far this year.
We will never abandon people who use drugs.