HIV outbreak in southeastern Indiana grows, 27 cases now confirmed

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 27, 2015)– The HIV outbreak in southeastern Indiana has grown to 27 confirmed cases and 10 preliminary HIV positive cases. The outbreak is linked to injection drug abuse of the prescription drug opana. Some individuals have also reported sexual intercourse as a possible mode of transmission.

Opana is a powerful opioid painkiller containing oxymorphone. Health officials are following up on known contacts in Scott, Clark, Jackson, Perry and Washington counties.

“This is a complex and fast moving outbreak that requires a comprehensive response,” said Deputy State Health Commissioner Jennifer Walthall, M.D., M.P.H. “There are many moving parts to address, including addiction, barriers to care such as lack of transportation and homelessness, as well as prostitution and the close proximity to interstate 65. We are exploring every possible response mechanism and are working closely with local health officials and others to get people the treatment and care they need and to stop the spread of HIV in the area.”

Each newly identified HIV positive person is being interviewed to obtain information about needle sharing and sex partners, as well as recommending care and medical services.

Hoosiers in the southeastern portion of the state, especially individuals who have engaged in high-risk behavior such as needle sharing and unprotected sex, are advised to get tested and then re-tested after about two to three months because HIV can take up to three months to appear in a person’s system.

To help reduce risk of HIV infection, avoid:

  • Injection drug use
  • Sharing or re-using needles
  • Engaging in unprotected sex; and
  • Engaging in sex with commercial sex workers

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