The Indiana State Department of Health is responding today to an outbreak of HIV in Southeastern Indiana.
The state says there have been 27 confirmed HIV infections, with an additional 10 more likely positives. The majority of reported cases have been in Scott County, which, according to the state, usually sees fewer than five cases a year.
Deputy State Health Commissioner Jennifer Walthall says most of the cases have been linked to abuse of an addictive prescription narcotic known as Opana.
“This cluster certainly is troubling, given that it is related to injection drug use. We are working very quickly to contain the threat,” Walthall says.
To get the word out, Walthall says the health department is disseminating information through local health departments and providers, in addition to investigating the contacts of those already infected.
“We’re working to connect individuals to resources for substance abuse treatment and recovery,” she says. “We’re also putting together harm reduction kits for IV drug users to clean needles that can be used for subsequent injections.”
Officials are encouraging Hoosiers in the Southeastern part of the state to get tested for HIV, especially if they’ve engaged in risky behaviors like IV drug use and unprotected sex.