Monday March 30, 2015
Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Thursday issued an executive order (EO 15-05) declaring a “public health disaster emergency” in Scott County in southeastern Indiana due to an epidemic of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the county. The extraordinary measures allowed under the executive order include permitting the Scott County Board of Health to seek the state government’s permission to design and administer a short-term needle exchange program for the sole purpose of suppressing the HIV epidemic in Scott County.
The Republican governor’s executive order further says that all 79 HIV cases the Indiana State Department of Health has confirmed in Scott County since December “directly relate to intravenous drug use.” According to the executive order, no more than than five confirmed HIV cases, irrespective of how transmitted, are expected yearly in the county.
If you are in one of Indiana’s 91 other counties and wish to access new, clean needles to protect yourself from infection, tough. (Less than half of one percent of Indiana residents live in Scott County.) Yet, people outside Scott County will be no less dead or debilitated because of infections they receive from using old, dirty needles.