Indiana allows needle exchange program to stem HIV outbreak

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence responds to a question during a news conference Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Scottsburg, Ind. Pence held the news conference after meeting with local officials in Scott County about an HIV outbreak. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has authorized a short-term needle exchange program to help contain an outbreak of HIV in a county with 79 confirmed new infections since January.

Pence on Thursday declared a public health emergency in Scott County, about 30 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. He ordered the state health department to set up a command center to coordinate HIV and substance abuse treatment and establish a mobile unit to enroll people in a state-run health program.

Indiana bars needle exchange programs, but Pence authorized a short-term exchange on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health officials.

The state has launched a public awareness campaign to focus on drug treatment, infection prevention, safe sex, needle disposal and HIV testing and treatment.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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