HIV cases surge to 142 in southeastern Indiana: $2.1 million allocated to contain outbreak

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INDIANAPOLIS (April 24, 2015) – The number of HIV cases in southeastern Indiana surged to 142, health officials said Friday. The state has allocated about $2.1 million to fight the HIV outbreak.

State health officials said there were 136 confirmed cases and six preliminary ones in both Scott and Jackson counties, with the bulk of those cases in Scott. The outbreak, linked to intravenous drug use, has not spread beyond the two counties thus far. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory Friday about the outbreak.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams said the number of HIV cases—and the number of people seeking help—continues to grow.

“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,” Adams said.

Adams called the outbreak “unprecedented,” saying a rural southeastern Indiana county has never had more than five cases of HIV diagnosed in one year.

State, local and federal health officials are continuing a four-pronged approach to containing the outbreak, which includes a needle exchange in Scott County, weekly HIV testing, a public awareness campaign and the One-Stop Shop at the Austin Community Outreach Center.

Gov. Mike Pence signed an executive order in late March authorizing the needle exchange. On Monday, he signed another executive order extending the program by 30 days because of the public health crisis in Scott County. The current order extends the program through May 24.

An emergency response team from the CDC has been in Scott County since March at the request of the Indiana State Department of Health.

The Community Outreach Center is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Grace Covenant Church is providing free shuttle service to and from Austin by calling (317) 617-2223.

For more information about the One-Stop Shop, call (317) 605-1480. The center provides HIV testing, vaccinations and other resources.