HIV state of emergency in Indiana tied to drug use
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is investigating an HIV outbreak that began in Scott County, Indiana in January, after seven cases of HIV were diagnosed quickly. Since then, there have been up to 80 confirmed cases of HIV, including seven patients who have tested positive for the disease. All of the cases have been similarly linked to dirty needles used to take opiate drugs. CDC specialists currently are investigating to help stop the spread of the disease within the state. They are working to track the virus and locate all known contacts of those who have been diagnosed with HIV.
Officials says that this is larger than just a Scott County problem, but that it's an Indiana problem. A director for the Foundations Family Medicine in Austin, a town in northwestern Scott County, says that opiate abuse is a problem that has needed attention for quite some time in that area. He believes that poverty is what’s behind the steady increase of opiate addiction, and used needles have continued to pile up on roadsides or in alleys and yards. After 10 years at the Austin facility, he’s seen an increase in the rate of overdoses, as well as patients diagnosed with Hepatitis C. He added that a large number of the 80 reported with HIV lived in Austin, which has only 4,200 residents.
Aside from poverty, Indiana’s addiction outbreak comes from the fact the state is along a “pill mill” route that travels from Florida to Chicago. Experts say that as oxycodone drugs were transported to Chicago dealers, locals in towns along the way started to take the pills and became addicted, which later developed into an addiction to opiate injections.
To control a future spread, local experts highlight the need to bring in more infectious disease experts, addiction counselors, cardiologists and pulmonary doctors to the area.