A Scott County, Indiana, commission voted Wednesday to end a needle exchange program that’s caused drug overdose rates to plummet and helped bring a devastating HIV outbreak in the area under control. The 2-1 vote was championed by Commissioner Mike Jones, who said during the meeting that he doesn’t believe in its effectiveness. “We need to come up with something different than ‘here’s a needle,’” Jones said, according to the Courier Journal. The program was installed in 2015 under then-Gov. Mike Pence after an HIV outbreak saw 237 cases among the county’s 24,000 residents. The shuttering was met with pushback from local experts, residents, and former Trump Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who served as health commissioner during the exchange’s opening and championed its success. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said needle-sharing plummeted in the county since the exchange, dropping from 74 percent in 2015 to 22 percent in 2018. Local health officials also said the county only had one HIV case last year, after a record high of 150 in past years.
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