On Wednesday, President Trump put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the U.S. response to the Coronavirus. Shortly after, Atlantic writer and former ESPN host Jemele Hill blasted the choice by claiming Pence’s leadership as governor resulted in an HIV outbreak in Indiana.
Hill jumped to her Twitter account on Thursday to slam Pence:
“Mike Pence, who was Indiana’s governor during the worst H.I.V. outbreak in the state’s history, is now in charge of the coronavirus response,” she wrote. “Welp, we had a good run y’all.”
Mike Pence, who was Indiana’s governor during the worst HIV outbreak in the state’s history, is now in charge of the coronavirus response.
Welp, we had a good run y’all. https://t.co/QMKLG9YJcc
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) February 27, 2020
Hill is alluding to an H.I.V. outbreak that occurred in 2015 when dozens of drug users began passing the infection in drug dens in the state. But, contrary to Hill’s accusation that Pence made the H.I.V. outbreak worse, even the left-wing New York Times praised Pence for stepping outside his moral comfort zone and approving a needle exchange program so that drug users had access to clean needles instead of reusing them and passing H.I.V. to each other with dirty needles.
The paper noted that once Pence singed his executive order launching the needle exchange program, the cases of H.I.V. “slowed to a trickle.”
“Tens of thousands of them were handed out over the following months,” the paper reported. “And the program, along with drug therapy and aggressive outreach, slowed the flood of new H.I.V. cases to a trickle.”
Pence set his moral qualms aside after the C.D.C. presented a scientific case that a needle exchange program would help lower the instances of H.I.V. transmission among criminals and drug abusers. At the time, Dr. Jerome Adams, Mr. Pence’s health commissioner, said that Pence found the science “compelling,” and he approved the program.
The facts in the Indiana H.I.V. case tend to defeat Hill’s attempt to smear Pence as incapable of handling the coming response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
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