The rise in HIV cases in Indiana is being linked to intravenous drug users sharing needles. Indiana Governor Mike Pence has declared a public health emergency because of 79 injection drug users tested positive for HIV in the southern part of the state.
A 30-day needle exchange program launched by Pence to stop the virus, which the officials believe could help decrease rates of the disease everywhere. Needle exchange program allows anyone to hand-in used syringes in exchange for clean ones.
AdvertisementInitially the governor opposed needle exchange programs because it might promote drug use.
Pence said, "I do not enter into this lightly. In response to a public health emergency, I'm prepared to make an exception to my long-standing opposition to needle exchange programs. I don't believe effective anti-drug policy involves handing out drug paraphernalia."
In 1990's, Vancouver, British Columbia experienced severe epidemic of HIV among intravenous dug users.
Dr. Thomas Kerr, HIV researcher in British Columbia, said, "Vancouver experienced what has been described as the most explosive epidemic of HIV ever observed outside of Sub-Saharan Africa."