Tags: indiana | hiv | outbreak | epidemic | governor pence

Indiana HIV Outbreak: Gov. Pence to Declare Health Emergency

By    |   Thursday, 26 Mar 2015 10:59 AM

An HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana, has been fueled by needle-sharing drug addicts, and Gov. Mike Pence plans to declare a public health disaster on Thursday.

The Indianapolis Star reported that the outbreak began with a single diagnosis in December, which snowballed into 26 cases in early March, and now stands at nearly 80.

Pence has called in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the outbreak, provide HIV testing and treatment, and set up a temporary needle-exchange program in conjunction with the Indiana State Department of Health.

Early reports indicated that the opioid painkiller Opana was being heavily trafficked via Interstate 65 into the town of Austin, which has a population of roughly 4,300.

Austin is considered the epicenter of the epidemic, and surrounding towns have seen Hepatitis C infections rise in recent months, foreshadowing the arrival of HIV.

"We knew it was only a matter of time until HIV set in," said William Cooke, Austin's only doctor. He spoke at a hearing of the Indiana legislature’s public health committee Wednesday.

What is needed in addition to a needle-exchange program, he said, was a new treatment center. The nearest one is a county over, and many potential patients have trouble getting there.

Cooke said that local residents are poverty stricken, and "think there’s nothing to live for tomorrow. And the drugs are so available. This is what happens — here and in other towns in America. It’s not unique to Austin."



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An HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana, has been fueled by needle-sharing drug addicts, and Gov. Mike Pence plans to declare a public health disaster on Thursday.
indiana, hiv, outbreak, epidemic, governor pence
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2015-59-26
Thursday, 26 Mar 2015 10:59 AM
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