What's wrong with Indiana?
It's been a bad couple of weeks for Indiana. First, Indiana University and Butler were knocked out of the NCAA basketball tournament while their capital city was mocked in a widely-played television ad. (above) Then Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a law allowing businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples. The NY Times suggests that the law might be part of the Governor's plans to run for President in 2016. There's been a backlash against the state with many crying for a boycott. Although most folks demanding such action have never been to Indiana and probably couldn't find it on a map, so it's unclear if it will have any effect.
If passing the 'Religious Freedom' bill is a sign that the Lord giveth, certainly the ongoing 79-person outbreak of HIV in rural Indiana is a sign that the Lord hath taken away. Thursday, the same Indiana Governor declared a public health emergency and approved a 30-day needle exchange program since all cases could be linked to intravenous drug use. Since Governor Pence has been a vocal opponent of needle exchange programs, this 180 must be quite humbling. But it's only funded for 30 days - so he has a political out and could still run for President.
From 538: "There were at least 194 needle exchange programs in 33 states in 2014, according to the Foundation for AIDS Research, and almost all were in states that have explicitly lifted or modified their laws. All of those programs are paid for by states, local governments or other organizations, since federal funding for needle exchange programs has been banned since 1980 (the ban was briefly lifted in 2009 by President Obama, and reinstated by Congress in 2012)"
A colleague mentioned to me today that it's nice that this program now exists to prevent HIV among rural folks but suspects that higher levels of HIV are occurring daily among urban Gary, Indiana residents and they'll never get even a temporary needle exchange program. America!! Perhaps Charles Barkley (above video) was smart to head to "In The Annapolis" instead of Indianapolis after all.
Addendum: Notre Dame (Indiana) just lost in the NCAA tournament