In­di­ana be­gins nee­dle ex­change in county with HIV out­break

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Health of­fi­cials in the state of In­di­ana on Satur­day be­gan a needle­ex­change pro­gram Satur­day in an at­tempt to curb the state’s largestever HIV out­break.

The nee­dle-ex­change pro­gram was cre­ated through an emer­gency ex­ec­u­tive or­der signed by Repub­li­can Gov. Mike Pence for a county where an HIV out­break among in­tra­venous drug users has grown to nearly 90 cases.

Pence’s 30-day or­der tem­po­rar­ily suspended In­di­ana’s ban on such pro­grams, but only for the south­east­ern In­di­ana county that’s north of Louisville, Ken­tucky.

“While (Pence) has been clear that he does not sup­port nee­dle ex­change as anti-drug pol­icy on an on­go­ing ba­sis, he’s been equally clear about his con­cern over this out­break, and has taken a crit­i­cal step to end this out­break by al­low­ing this nee­dle ex­change to oc­cur,” said State Health Com­mis­sioner Jerome Adams, the News and Tri­bune re­ported.

The pro­gram is open only to Scott County res­i­dents through a cen­ter in the city of Austin, the epi­cen­ter of the epi­demic. That re­gion now has 84 con­firmed HIV cases and five pre­lim­i­nary pos­i­tive cases.

Each par­tic­i­pant will ini­tially re­ceive enough nee­dles for one week as a way to deal with the nee­dle-shar­ing that’s caused the epi­demic. The cen­ter will also of­fer free HIV screen­ing, drug treat­ment re­fer­rals and hep­ati­tis A and B vac­ci­na­tions.

The ex­ec­u­tive or­der per­mit­ting the pro­gram could be ex­tended if needed.

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