Indiana Governor declares public health emergency after HIV ‘epidemic’

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The Governor of the US state of Indiana has declared a public health emergency, describing an HIV outbreak as having “reached epidemic proportions”.

Governor Mike Pence said Scott County has seen 79 new cases in recent weeks, compared to an average of around five infections per year.

Noting that needle-sharing often takes place in the county, Governor Pence gave the green light to health officials to implement a needle exchange programme.

He had previously been opposed to such measures.

“Scott County is facing an epidemic of HIV, but this is not a Scott County problem; this is an Indiana problem,” said Governor Pence.

“With additional state resources and new tools provided by this emergency declaration, I am confident that together we will stop this HIV outbreak in its tracks.”

According to epidemiologist Pam Pontones, almost all of the new cases originated from drug users sharing syringes.