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HIV Epidemic Continues In Southeastern Indiana
Updated April 27, 2015 7:42 AM | Filed under: Health
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(UNDATED) - State, federal and local officials continue to battle an epidemic of HIV in southeastern Indiana. State health officials announced a total of 142 individuals have tested positive for HIV (136 confirmed and 6 preliminary). 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.

Contacts of the cases in Jackson County have been followed up on and are considered low-risk. No additional cases of HIV have been related to those reported in Jackson County.

"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."

State, local and federal officials are responding to the outbreak through several measures, including a One-Stop Shop for services at the Austin Community Outreach Center, a weekly HIV testing and treatment clinic, a needle exchange program operating by the Scott County Health Department and an HIV public awareness campaign called You Are Not Alone.

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.

Multiple organizations and agencies have contributed staff, technical expertise and services to the outbreak response, including CDC, AmeriCorps, IU Health Network, MATEC, other state health departments, local health departments and other Indiana state agencies.

Community Outreach Center

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.

The One-Stop Shop at the Austin Community Outreach Center provides free HIV testing, vaccinations against tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and information about HIV and hepatitis prevention, treatment and resources. Substance abuse referrals are available and individuals can also get assistance in enrolling in Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP 2.0) insurance. The Department of Workforce Development is also on-hand to provide local job referrals and training. The One-Stop Shop Info Line is (317) 605-1480.

Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov. Follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1. Use the hashtag #INstopHIV to follow the outbreak response on Twitter.

Hoosiers who do not have health care coverage or access to a doctor are encouraged to check availability for the new Healthy Indiana Plan--HIP 2.0--by visiting www.HIP.IN.gov or calling 1-877-GET-HIP-9.



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