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New HIV cases reported in southern Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – State health officials say the HIV outbreak in southern Indiana continues to grow.

Earlier this week, 26 cases of HIV were reported in five southern counties since mid-December. Those counties are Clark, Jackson, Perry, Scott, and Washington.

On Friday, health officials said there are now 27 confirmed cases and 10 preliminary HIV positive cases. The cases are linked to injection drug abuse of the prescription drug, opana, a powerful opioid painkiller containing oxymorphone. Some people are also reporting sexual intercourse as a possible mode of transmission.

The state says their goal now is to reduce harm, reduce risk and increase awareness. They’ve deployed disease intervention specialists to the southern part of the state. They’re looking to obtain information from the newly diagnosed individuals on needle sharing and sex partners.

Individuals living in the affected area, especially those engaging in high-risk behavior, are advised to be tested for HIV status, and then retested after two to three months.

Other tips to reduce risk of contracting HIV infection include:

  • avoid injection drug use
  • avoid sharing or re-using needles
  • avoid engaging in unprotected sex
  • avoid engaging in sex with commercial sex workers

For a listing of HIV testing locations and HIV Care Coordination, call the ISDH HIV Services Hotline at 866-588-4948.

For free and confidential assistance with mental health or substance abuse issues, call the national 24-hour addiction hotline at 800-662-HELP (4357).

To learn more about the link between HIV infection and drug abuse, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse here.