It really hasn’t been a great week for the state of Indiana, with the worst hit being the signing of ‘right’ to discriminate (against gays) legislation. But what’s lost in all of that is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has decided to follow the scientific evidence–only after it’s too late (boldface mine):
An outbreak of H.I.V. in southeastern Indiana prompted the governor on Thursday to declare a public health emergency as officials worked to stop the spread of the virus that causes AIDS.
Officials said that 71 cases of H.I.V. identified since mid-December have been traced to intravenous use of a prescription painkiller in Scott County north of Louisville, Ky. Nine more cases are still under investigation, and state health officials predicted that more would appear in coming weeks. The governor authorized a short-term exchange program that would provide drug users with access to sterile needles so that contaminated needles were less likely to be shared.
Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, has long opposed such programs. But he said that the outbreak, which was first identified in late January, had reached epidemic proportions, justifying the action. “This is all hands on deck,” Mr. Pence said. “This is a very serious situation.”
Mr. Pence’s order, which is in effect for 30 days, would allow for a needle-exchange program within Scott County if one is requested by local officials.
… Mr. Pence said that Scott County typically sees about five new cases of H.I.V. a year…
Allowing clinics and other entities to dispense sterile syringes in exchange for used ones has long been debated. Proponents, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say such programs can impede the spread of infectious diseases like H.I.V. and hepatitis C. Opponents say they may encourage illegal drug use.
United States law prohibits federal funding of needle-exchange programs. About half of states, generally those that are politically conservative, have banned the practice, according to the North American Syringe Exchange Network, which tracks state policies.
Never mind that needle exchange programs lower disease transmission and don’t increase drug use–we’ve known this for a long time, even though conservatives have been lying about needle exchange programs for just as long. What someone needs to ask Pence is how many AIDS infections are ideologically acceptable? One? Five? Ten? Fifty? How long do we wait before we jettison incorrect ideology to prevent HIV infection?
So it’s good Pence finally did something, but it’s 71 infections too late.