The Governor Pence Scandal No One Is Talking About

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.

This entry was posted in Basic Human Decency, Conservatives, HIV, Public Health. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Governor Pence Scandal No One Is Talking About

  1. doug says:

    Opponents say they may encourage illegal drug use.

    Opponents are fucking idiots who cost the public purse huge sums of money for treatment instead of prevention. I couch this in terms of money because opponents are generally so stupid the only thing they understand is money – or at least, they think they understand it.
    Indiana, to its partial credit, does allow purchase of syringes without a prescription, though purchasers are required to “sign a register.” DC is among the small number of extra-stupid states & regions. I’m not entirely clear on this, not be a USAnian, but it appears that federal law gets in the way of on-line ordering of syringes without a prescription.
    But by gawd, you can buy guns and ammo with the greatest of ease.

    Here in what is widely, though to a substantial degree incorrectly, regarded as an ultra conservative city (our turd of a prime minster resides here), it is perfectly legal for anyone to buy injection supplies without a prescription. I suspect that most pharmacists are smart enough to know that selling them to known drug users is a good thing, not a bad thing. We have permanent special-purpose disposal boxes for used needles. in the UK is worth a visit – they offer not just syringes and needles but all sorts of harm-reduction supplies

  2. Jim Sweeney
    Jim Sweeney says:

    Pence is actually suspending Indiana law, and good for him.

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