IU health policy expert Beth Meyerson among panelists at upcoming legislative conference

Throughout the past year, addiction and its related pitfalls have been on the minds of health care professionals, experts, educators and the public.

Beth Meyerson

Beth Meyerson, co-director of Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention.

Scott County faced a major crisis when HIV cases skyrocketed because of intravenous drug use. Needle exchange programs have popped up in three counties since, and the state continues to find ways to combat an increase in drug addiction.

Beth Meyerson, assistant professor of applied health science at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, will discuss addiction and health care during the Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP Legislative Conference on Dec. 16.

“This is an important part of being a university and a school of public health,” Meyerson said of attending the conference. “Our work is focused on the translation of public health evidence for policy consideration. This means that we must be engaged, communicate effectively and respond with evidence when needed for policy-maker consideration.”

This is the first time Meyerson, who also serves as co-director of Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention, will attend the conference, which takes place Dec. 16 in Indianapolis. She will be among state leaders, elected officials, policy advisors, professionals and business leaders from throughout the state who will discuss numerous topics facing Indiana as the new legislative session approaches.

Meyerson will serve on a panel discussing health care/HIP 2.0 information regarding needle exchange and addiction. The panel, which will also include Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, will feature discussion around the Scott County HIV outbreak and what the state’s main policy-makers are considering to improve state health policy.

The panel will also feature discussion about how the implementation of the state’s health insurance plan — Healthy Indiana Plan or HIP 2.0 — is working and whether the General Assembly is planning legislative action to counteract the rising issue of addiction in the state.

“The Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention not only conducts public health research focused on structural barriers to HIV and STD prevention and health access, but we also assist policy partners at the state level (including the legislature) to understand what these issues mean for Indiana specifically,” Meyerson said. “Last year, IU President Michael McRobbie asked that we provide research support to the legislature on behalf of our School of Public Health. I’m honored to do this and to be part of the partners who are gathered for this panel.”

As part of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention, Meyerson played an integral part in the Scott County crisis, advising the legislature on the science of syringe exchange programs and providing evidence of HIV testing and systems access issues based on research. She also communicated frequently through various media outlets to assist public conversations about the issues. With Carrie Lawrence, a postdoctoral fellow at the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention, she created Project Cultivate, which helps communities move forward with syringe access. Her current research focuses on studying the implementation of syringe exchange and conducting a study on harm reduction attitudes and practices among Indiana community pharmacists focused on Naloxone, syringe access and pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV or PrEP.

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