Indiana Governor-elect wants to overturn needle exchange restrictions

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana’s incoming governor says he wants to overturn restrictions on needle exchanges that his predecessor, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, signed into law as part of the state’s response to its worst HIV epidemic.

Republican Eric Holcomb says he wants a new law that will allow local officials to establish their own needle exchanges.

Currently individual counties must be vetted and get state permission to open a needle exchange. The law was signed by Pence in 2015 in response to the epidemic, which infected almost 200 people in rural southern Indiana. Most infected were intravenous drug users.

Public health officials say needle exchanges can save lives, but the current law creates bureaucracy and puts up road blocks for counties.

Holcomb called his proposal a “prudent step.”

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