Thursday, March 26, 2015

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Indiana governor declares HIV public health emergency, announces needle exchange program

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) declared a public health emergency in Scott County, Indiana, on Thursday in response to an HIV outbreak, and authorized a temporary needle-exchange program.

The Associated Press reports that Scott County has seen 79 new HIV infections this year, all of which resulted from intravenous drug use. State epidemiologist Pam Pontones told AP that the majority of infections occurred when people injected themselves with the prescription painkiller Opana using shared syringes.

Indiana is creating a command center for substance abuse treatment, Pence announced Thursday. There will also be a mobile unit to help enroll residents in a state health program.

Under regular circumstances, Indiana law prohibits needle-exchange programs, but Pence agreed to the temporary program because of the "emergency nature of the infections," AP notes.

"This is all hands on deck. This is a very serious situation," Pence said at a news conference Thursday. The executive order will go into effect for a 30-day period. Meghan DeMaria

"The terrible thing about our time is precisely the ease with which theories can be put into practice.  The more perfect, the more idealistic the theories, the more dreadful is their realization.  We are at last beginning to rediscover what perhaps men knew better in very ancient times, in primitive times before utopias were thought of: that liberty is bound up with imperfection, and that limitations, imperfections, errors are not only unavoidable but also salutary. The best is not the ideal.  Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.”  
"Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander,” by Trappist monk, Father Thomas Merton

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