The number of confirmed HIV cases in Scott County, Indiana and surrounding areas associated with the outbreak that began earlier this year 170, positive sign, according to state health officials.
“The number of new cases a week since the middle of April has dramatically decreased,” Deputy State Health Commissioner Jennifer Walthall, MD, MPH, said during a conference today. She said cases at a rate of 0 to 2 per week. “We feel we have done a great job identifying highrisk contacts and getting them tested.”
State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, MD MPH, “It’s important to get HIV-infected individuals into treatment so they cannot infect other individuals.”
As many as 83 potential contacts — including those who could not be located, refused testing, or were not reached for other reasons — could add to the total of those infected, according to information provided by state health officials.
The majority of cases have been traced to IV drug use of Opana (oxymorphone, Endo Pharmaceuticals), state epidemiologist Pam Pontones said in March. Others have been traced to IV methamphetamine use and possibly IV heroin use, she said.
While the effort to contain the outbreak will continue to involve federal, state and local officials in the short-term, local officials may be especially critical to long-term success, Adams said.
“It’s important to note that we’ve partnered with the CDC, Kentucky and Ohio. We’re doing everything we can to find everyone with possible exposure,” he said. “[Continued] local involvement is the only way this can be sustainable.”
he Indiana State Department of Health is working with the CDC, drug treatment facilities, local medical providers and other state agencies to contain the outbreak and place individuals with HIV into treatment. The department created a public awareness campaign called “You Are Not Alone,” focusing on drug abuse, safe sex, needle disposal and HIV testing and treatment. According to an April MMWR, 84.4% of those who had tested positive for HIV at the time were coinfected with hepatitis C. – by David Jwanier