Recently, I saw this picture floating around a heavily left sided Facebook page, called “The Other 98%.” I decided to look into it.
It turns out, the politically charged photo is correct, for the most part.
According to the Huffinton Post, “Pence first laid the groundwork for Indiana’s HIV outbreak as a congressman back in 2011, when the House passed his amendment to defund Planned Parenthood. Then in 2013, Pence’s first year as governor of Indiana, Scott County’s one Planned Parenthood closed in the wake of public health spending cuts. Since that particular Planned Parenthood was also the county’s only HIV testing center, there was no longer a place for the county’s 24,000 residents to get tested.”
People in Scott County were sharing needles to fuel their ravenous opioid addictions, all without getting tested or having the ability to be tested and treated due to poverty. Granted, they did make the choice to use those drugs and share needles.
Pence, being a strong conservative, was highly against providing clean needle outlets because he believed it would actually increase the use of drugs. “Mr. Pence said he was going to go home and pray on it,” reported Megan Twohey of the New York Times.
Lexy Gross of The Courier Journal wrote on a study saying “In conclusion, the study found that Scott County’s public health crisis — which left 181 people in Southeastern Indiana HIV positive — was caused by a “close network” of residents injecting opioid Opana and sharing needles. It suggests that Indiana and other largely rural states should focus on prevention measures such as more HIV testing, identifying networks of intravenous drug users, increasing access to treatment, considering syringe-exchange programs and education.”