South Indiana is under major pressure to create a medical safety blanket after it was revealed Gov. Mike Pence would declare a health emergency over the growing cases of HIV in the area.
Excessive amounts of drug use have aided the increase in HIV and AIDS viruses, according to the Indy Star. Oxymorphone – or Opana – has become the popular drug of choice.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Pence was weary of introducing a needle exchange program in Scott County, but approved a temporary one to fight the epidemic. Since placing the area under a public health emergency, there have been a total of 79 new cases of HIV.
Pence was part of a three-hour hearing the same day to pass an emergency amendment to allow needle exchange programs. While others were on board for the program, Pence didn’t believe it would be effective in stopping the epidemic.
“I do not support needle exchanges as anti-drug policy, but this is a public health emergency,” he said. “I’m going to make a decision on the best science and the best way to stop this virus and this outbreak in its tracks.”
The temporary 30-day plan has been put into action with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jeanni McCarty, the office manager for Foundations Family Medicine in Austin, says she has seen most of the HIV cases face-to-face. A woman who was diagnosed with the disease in January funded her drug addiction with prostitution. Even after knowing her diagnosis, she had sex with over 70 truck drivers passing through the area.
Doctors also testified at the hearing with more facts and stories. They argued that cases could increase at any given moment because of the growing amount of Hepatitis C cases in the county.
SOURCE: Indy Star | VIDEO CREDIT: News Inc.
Listen to Roland Martin and Indiana Deputy Health Commissioner, Dr. Jennifer Walthall discuss the HIV outbreak in the audio clip below.