“Paula founded a syringe exchange program in the poorest county in Indiana with absolutely no public money to combat a Hepatitis C and HIV epidemic”
My sister, Paula Maupin, is the county health nurse in Fayette County, Indiana. In 2015, Fayette County, like many American communities found itself facing a Hepatitis C outbreak which is a precursor to an HIV epidemic. The origin of the outbreak was the sharp rise in IV opioid use and the sharing of needles among addicts. Paula was given a directive from the Indiana Attorney General's office along with the Indiana State Board of Health to start a syringe exchange program to provide clean needles and supplies to the county's IV drug users. Although the Governor, Mike Pence, agreed to lift the state ban on syringe exchange programs for counties which declared a public health emergency, like Fayette, the ban on using state funds remained in place. Paula successfully developed and found enough money through grants and private donations to fund the "Point of Hope Syringe Exchange Program" to provide not only necessary supplies to prevent Hepatitis C and HIV exposure among those sharing needles, but to also provide substance use counseling, referrals to treatment centers, and insurance enrollment to nearly 30 participants. All without a single taxpayer dollar. But the most precious commodity she offers is compassion and hope.