The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) outbreak in several counties in southeastern Indiana continues to grow after first reported approximately three weeks ago. Since mid-December 2014, the number has risen to 44 confirmed cases plus a individual that is preliminary positive, according to Indiana health officials.

Indiana county map/ISDH
Indiana county map/ISDH

Less than two weeks ago, the outbreak case count was 27 confirmed cases and 10 preliminary HIV positive cases.

Indiana state health officials say the majority of the cases in the outbreak are linked to injection drug abuse of the prescription drug, Opana. A small number of cases are linked through sexual transmission.

“This is different than what we’ve seen in the past in Indiana,” according to Deputy Indiana Health Commissioner Jennifer Walthall. “Specifically, HIV is predominately sexually transmitted and this is the first one that we’ve known of that’s been predominately injected-drug-use related.”

The Indiana State Department of Health says they are working closely with local health departments, health care providers and others to contain the spread of HIV in southeastern Indiana. State and local health officials are following up on known contacts in Scott, Clark, Jackson, Perry and Washington counties.

Disease intervention specialists are in the area, interviewing each newly identified HIV positive individual to obtain information about needle sharing and sex partners, as well as recommending care coordination services, medical care and HIV prevention information.