Posted on

Needle exchange to curb HIV outbreak


Needle exchange to curb HIV outbreak

Social Share

AUSTIN, Ind. (AP) – Health officials in Indiana on Saturday began a needle-exchange program Saturday in a county where an HIV outbreak among intravenous drug users has grown to nearly 90 cases.

Scott County’s needle-exchange program was created through an emergency executive order signed by Republican Governor Mike Pence in an attempt to curb the state’s largest-ever HIV outbreak.

Pence’s 30-day order temporarily suspended Indiana’s ban on such programsme, but only for the southeastern Indiana county that’s about 30 miles 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 programme is open only to Scott County residents through the Community Outreach Centre in the city of Austin, the epicentre 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 centre will also offer free HIV screening, drug treatment referrals and hepatitis A and B vaccinations.

“If we don’t pay close attention to what’s going on here, we’re going to be doomed to repeat it throughout all of Indiana, and our country,” Adams said.

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