Pence to sign limited needle exchange legislation

Published: Apr. 30, 2015 at 8:50 AM EDT|Updated: May. 7, 2015 at 8:50 AM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (WAVE) - Gov. Mike Pence has vowed to sign a bill that will allow communities to implement needle exchange programs in the event of public health emergencies like the recent HIV outbreak in Scott County.

Health officials say 143 people with ties to Scott and Jackson Counties have tested positive for the virus, many of them intravenous drug users.

[PREVIOUS STORY: High school students do not want community defined by HIV outbreak]

The Indiana General Assembly passed the limited needle exchange program legislation Wednesday night, and Pence says he will sign it.

"While our administration took swift executive action to intervene in the HIV outbreak in Scott County, our healthcare and law enforcement communities will benefit from the legal framework in Senate Enrolled Act 461, which allows limited and accountable syringe exchange programs where public health emergencies warrant such action. Such measures will save lives," Pence said in a written statement. "This legislation permits local officials to request approval from the Indiana State Department of Health for a limited and accountable syringe exchange program in the event of a public health emergency, provides resources to our law enforcement community, and I look forward to signing it into law."

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