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Indiana allows needle exchange program to stem HIV outbreak

INDIANAPOLIS — 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.

RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press