Scott County is in the middle of an HIV epidemic,and is ranked as one of the “Least Healthiest Counties” in Indiana, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
“The county health rankings are an important tool for local health departments as they prepare for national public health accreditation,” said Dr. Greg Larkin, state health commissioner. “Health departments can use these data as part of the community health assessment and community health improvement plan, which are both required documents for public health accreditation.”
The report indicated that the 10 healthiest counties in Indiana are Hamilton, Dubois, Boone, LaGrange, Hendricks, Warrick, DeKalb, Wells, Whitley and Marshall.
The county with the poorest health outcomes was Scott, followed by Starke, Pike, Switzerland, Fayette, Sullivan, Martin, Jennings, Lake and Jay.
Scott County has come in last for the past six years and community leaders have created a task force in response.
On Tuesday, there were 89 confirmed cases of HIV in Scott County.
A temporary needle exchange program designed to get dirty needles out of the hands of heroin users began last weekend. That program required special authorization from Governor Mike Pence, as needle exchange programs are banned in Indiana.
However, the state House passed a bill this week that would allow “high risk” counties to create needle exchanges.
Counties with high rates of Hepatitis C would be eligible.
Supporters hope the programs would help prevent diseases from spreading. Opponents want to see how the 30 day program works in Scott County first.
The bill now heads back to the Senate.