In a follow-up report on the ever growing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) outbreak in the Hoosier state, health officials report a total of 55 confirmed cases of HIV and 13 additional preliminary positive cases related to the outbreak in southeastern Indiana that was announced in February. All cases are linked to injection drug abuse of the prescription opioid painkiller, opana, with some individuals also reporting sexual intercourse as a possible mode of transmission.
“I am deeply troubled by this outbreak, and stopping it is a top priority for our department,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “We are engaging local, state, and national partners to determine where we can most effectively focus our efforts. Extra care is being taken to invest resources in getting people off drugs and into treatment, since drug abuse is the clear driving force behind this outbreak.”
The Indiana State Department of Health is working 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 HIV positive individuals treatment. Specifically, the State Health Department has requested a medical team from CDC to help with following up on contacts of HIV positive individuals and analyzing data. The team, which will arrive in Scott County on Monday, consists of two medical doctors and one epidemiologist.
Other efforts include the creation of a public awareness campaign created specifically in response to this outbreak, called You Are Not Alone, which focuses on drug abuse, 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 resources. The campaign will include digital and social media ads, billboards along the Interstate 65 corridor, radio, and will be featured in the free local paper, The Giveaway. Social media ads will begin today, with the rest of the campaign rolling out over the next two weeks and lasting three months. The campaign can be seen in southeastern Indiana counties.