The HIV outbreak in southeastern Indiana continues to grow as state health officials now put the total cases at 142. Scott and Jackson counties both have reported at least five cases, which is the State’s minimum threshold for identifying counties that have positive cases.
“New cases of HIV are still being identified every day, but the number of people seeking services, medical treatment and substance abuse treatment is also growing,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “We likely haven’t reached the peak of this outbreak, but we hope to soon through the continued comprehensive response made possible by the joint efforts of so many people and organizations.”
On April 20, Governor Pence signed Executive Order 15-06, extending by 30 days the public health emergency declaration in Scott County and permitting the continued operation of the needle exchange program in that county.
“Indiana public health officials reacted promptly to a severe, rapidly spreading outbreak of HIV among injection drug users, a population in which HIV had been substantially reduced across the nation. They are implementing a range of scientifically sound interventions to help people with HIV and HCV get diagnosed and linked to medical care and prevention services; this will help prevent the continued spread of infection in Indiana, and ensure people live longer, healthier lives,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., Director of CDC’s Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emergency response team including disease intervention specialists and epidemiologists has been in Scott County since March, at the invitation of the Indiana State Department of Health. Together, federal, state and county health officials are working to identify transmission networks and better target outreach efforts. CDC is also assisting state and local officials with their efforts to provide risk reduction education. Finally, CDC is providing consultation on prevention services that may be implemented in the response – this includes substance use treatment, HIV treatment for those who are infected, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for those who are HIV-negative, and syringe service programs.
Today, the CDC issued a health advisory with recommendations for health departments and health providers.