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Pence extends needle-exchange program after HIV outbreak

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) extended a needle-exchange program today that was first approved in late March, and which appears to be helping address the problem.
Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) holds a press conference March 31, 2015 at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty)
Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) holds a press conference March 31, 2015 at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis, Ind.
When Indiana state policymakers last month tackled a new right-to-discriminate law, it was an unfortunate move for all kinds of reasons. There were, of course, the obvious problems of sanctioning discrimination and doing lasting damage to the state's reputation, all in the hopes of solving a problem that didn't exist.
 

HIV epidemic plagues Indiana

March 29, 201504:54

An Indiana county at the heart of an H.I.V. outbreak has seen a "significant increase" in the number of cases more than two weeks into a short-term needle exchange program, state health officials said. There are now 120 confirmed H.I.V. cases and 10 preliminary positive cases tied to Scott County, the Indiana State Department of Health said on Friday. That is up from 106 the previous week. Health officials who declared an epidemic last month have said that they expect the number of cases to rise as more people are tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent staff members to Indiana last month to help with testing, the Health Department said in a news release.

In late March, Gov. Mike Pence (R), on literally the same day he signed the right-to-discriminate measure into law, approved a temporary needle-exchange program intended to address the public-health emergency in the affected area of Indiana.
 
This afternoon, the governor, citing the preliminary progress over the last four weeks, extended the program. Note, Indiana law prohibits needle exchanges, but Pence is pursuing the policy anyway through a gubernatorial executive order.
 
For more on this, msnbc's Alex Witt and field producer Anthony Terrell had a great segment on this recently, which is included towards the top of this post. It's worth checking out.