Updated March 26, 2015 5:39 p.m. ET
Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence declared a public-health emergency in a rural southern county to counter the spread of HIV linked to intravenous drug use—an outbreak he said has reached epidemic proportions.
In an executive order, Mr. Pence authorized Scott County to institute a “targeted, short-term needle-exchange program” to contain the outbreak, according to the governor’s office.
“I do not support needle exchange as an antidrug policy,” Mr. Pence said in an interview. But at the urging of the federal Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, he said a 30-day exception was warranted in Scott County, near the Kentucky border.
The Indiana State Department of Health identified 79 confirmed cases of HIV since the beginning of the year originating in Scott County. Typically, the county has fewer than five new HIV cases in a year, state officials said.