Indiana county “disaster” after HIV outbreak

April 1, 2015

Indiana Governor Mike Pence declared rural Scott County a public health disaster after it realized a spike in HIV cases linked to intravenous prescription drug abuse.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence declared rural Scott County a public health disaster after it realized a spike in HIV cases linked to intravenous prescription drug abuse.

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Since December, Scott County has had 72 confirmed HIV cases and seven preliminary ones, according to Reuters. Up to 100 cases could be identified. In the past, Scott County reported less than 5 new HIV cases each year and had just 21 residents with HIV in 2014.

Some of the HIV cases are linked to IV use of the powerful painkiller Opana, which contains oxymorphone. Officials said people also have become infected after injecting other drugs, such as methamphetamine, according to Reuters.

Indiana will bring in a mobile command center to assist individuals in enrolling in HIP 2.0, offering vaccinations, and providing identification information.

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Since the outbreak was first identified in late January, the Indiana State Department of Health has worked closely with local health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug treatment facilities, local medical providers, and other State agencies to contain the outbreak and get treatment for those who test positive for HIV, according to a statement from Pence’s office.

 A medical team from CDC arrived in Scott County on March 23 to help with following up on contacts of HIV-positive individuals and analyzing data.

In addition, ISDH is launching a regional public awareness campaign, called “You Are Not Alone,” which focuses on drug treatment, infection prevention, safe sex, needle disposal and HIV testing and treatment. Viewers are encouraged to contact the HIV services hotline or addiction hotline for local treatment and care resource. 

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