Indiana News

Indiana HIV outbreak reaches ‘epidemic proportions’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Officials report another jump in the number of HIV cases in Scott County.

State health officials stated that there are now 81 HIV positive cases, including the 74 confirmed cases and another 7 preliminary cases.

Governor Mike Pence declared a state of public health emergency in Scott County because the outbreak has gained epidemic proportions.

“Scott County is facing an epidemic of HIV, but this is not a Scott County problem; this is an Indiana problem,” said Governor Pence. “I am confident that together, we will stop this HIV outbreak in its tracks,” Pence stated.

The public health emergency calls on multiple state agencies to work together to treat the outbreak. This includes the Indiana State Department of Health, local health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug treatment facilities, academic and local providers, other state agencies and other partner.

“With 91% of new infections originating from those who either do not know they’re infected or are not in care, getting individuals tested for HIV is a critical aspect of preventing the spread of infection,” says Damien Center Executive Director Tom Bartenbach.

Current treatment of the epidemic includes:

Free HIV testing, which utilizes a rapid HIV screening test that only takes 20 minutes.

Interviewing newly identified HIV positive individuals, not only to get a full sex and drug history but to refer future medical care.

Creating a Scott County incident command center, where HIV treatment and substance abuse treatment is coordinated.

Starting a medical clinic, which assists with individual care.

Providing resources to assist people with drug treatment and to sign up for a health plan.

Implementing public awareness, encouraging education and awareness.

The Scott County Board of Health has also gained permission to provide a short-term needle-sharing program.

“All members of the Board of Health voted unanimously to approve the needle-exchange program request,” said Scott County Health Officer R. Kevin Rogers, M.D. “We appreciate the opportunity that Governor Pence is giving us to authorize this intervention.”

Although all of the cases associated with the HIV outbreak are in Scott County, state health officials continue to monitor surrounding counties, which include: Clark, Perry, Washington and Jackson counties.

For HIV testing locations across the state and other HIV-related information such as care coordination, call the ISDH HIV Services Hotline at 866-588-4948 or visit this website.