Health officials alert public of 26 confirmed cases of HIV in southeastern Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 25, 2015)— Officials with the Indiana State Department of Health announced the quick outbreak of HIV in the southeastern part of the state, confirming 26 cases of the virus. Health officials said there have also been four preliminary HIV positive cases since mid-December.

“It’s very concerning to me that most of the individuals who have tested HIV positive have only recently contracted the virus,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “Because prescription drug abuse is at the heart of this outbreak, we are not only working to identify, contact and test individuals who may have been exposed, but also to connect community members to resources for substance abuse treatment and recovery.”

Officials said a large number of the cases are linked through injection drug abuse of the prescription drug, Opana.  The drug is a powerful opioid painkiller containing oxymorphone, and it is more potent, per milligram, than Oxycontin.

A small number of cases were spread through sexual transmission, said officials.

State health officials said they are working closely with local health departments and health care providers to prevent the spread of HIV in the state. Disease intervention specialists are in the southeastern part of Indiana, interviewing individuals who are HIV positive.

To help reduce risk of HIV infection, avoid:

• injection drug use;
• sharing or re-using needles;
• engaging in unprotected sex; and,
• engaging in sex with commercial sex workers.

For HIV testing locations and information about HIV Care Coordination, individuals are encouraged to call the ISDH HIV Services Hotline at (866) 588-4948.

Individuals seeking help with substance abuse should call the national 24-hour addiction hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This hotline provides confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental health and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.