WARREN, Ohio — Officials in a northeast Ohio county have rejected a plan to create a needle exchange program to combat the rising number of hepatitis C infections in intravenous drug users.

The Tribune Chronicle reports Trumbull County’s health department abandoned the idea because of opposition. A public health nurse says the county was prepared to follow state guidelines for needle exchange programs after making a “correlation” between intravenous drug use and blood-borne diseases.

County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins called the idea “absurd” and said it would encourage lawlessness because it’s illegal for people to inject illicit drugs.

The newspaper reports probable and confirmed cases of hepatitis C have increased nearly five-fold in Trumbull County since 2012. Hepatitis C can lead to liver disease and often goes undetected.

Information from: The Tribune Chronicle, http://www.tribtoday.com

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