Pence Prayed, Allowed HIV Outbreak To Spread

Pence Prayed, Allowed HIV Outbreak To Spread August 8, 2016

Mike Pence is a dangerous religious extremist.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence allowed an HIV outbreak to spread in 2015, choosing prayer over a clean needle exchange.

As an HIV outbreak exploded in a rural county of Indiana, for several months Governor Pence refused to allow a clean needle exchange, despite desperate pleas from local, state and federal health officials urging the governor to allow clean needles to be distributed to slow the outbreak.

The New York Times reports:

In recent interviews, local, state and federal health officials said Mr. Pence initially held firm. So as they struggled to contain the spread of H.I.V., the officials embarked on a behind-the-scenes effort over several weeks to persuade him to change his mind, using political pressure, research and pleas for help from this remote, poor community.

…more than two months after the outbreak was detected, Mr. Pence said he was going to go home and pray on it.

Two days later, he issued an executive order allowing syringes to be distributed in Scott County.

The number of infected could have been much lower if the Indiana governor had acted when he was first warned about the emergency. Yet despite the warnings, his twisted conservative Christian values could not justify a clean needle exchange, even if it meant saving lives.

Pence eventually did relent, and gave up on his puritanical reasoning for denying intravenous drug users clean needles, but not after an entirely preventable outbreak of HIV damaged and destroyed too many lives and cost taxpayers too much money.

The fact that it took two months, desperate pleas from state and federal health officials, and 48 hours of prayer for Pence to do the right thing is shameful and alarming.

For Pence, the Indiana HIV debacle of 2015 was not only a failure as a political leader, it was a moral failure as a human being.

Bottom line: Pence could have easily prevented or mitigated a great deal of human suffering; instead, he failed to act in a timely fashion, and citizens suffered.

Mike Pence (Image by Gage Skidmore)
Mike Pence (Image by Gage Skidmore)
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