Iowa is seeing rising rates of hepatitis C among people who inject drugs, so state health officials got federal approval to launch a program to distribute clean syringes to drug users, but there’s a problem. Syringe exchange programs are illegal in Iowa. Randy Mayer, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Public Health, says they’re preparing to make the case for syringe exchanges to state lawmakers.
The same state report that shows increasing rates of hepatitis C also shows Iowa is at risk for an H-I-V outbreak among drug users. Mayer says the state hasn’t yet seen H-I-V diagnoses rise among people who use drugs, but the department is watching closely for that.