Good work, Governor Pence. Now you have a public health emergency.
Governor Mike Pence has been in a lot of hot water lately over Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act that appeared to allow businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community. However, now there’s a whole new disaster to which the governor will have to answer. Indiana’s Scott County is facing a massive HIV outbreak because its local Planned Parenthoods have been closed since 2013.
The outbreak is the largest in state history, and as a result, Governor Pence had to declare a public health emergency last week. HIV epidemics are much more common in urban areas, where there are more people per square mile, so why did Austin, Indiana, a small town in Scott County, get hit so hard? The CDC is pointing to a surge in intravenous drug use among a rising number of people who live below the poverty line.
The only public health facility in the county where locals could get tested for HIV was the Planned Parenthood center, so when that was forced to close due to major budget cuts, there was nowhere for people to turn. The cuts to funding began in 2011 due to a local political campaign to combat the free health care provider. Since then, four other Planned Parenthoods have closed their doors, leaving rural counties like Scott without an affordable testing and treatment center.