March 25, 2015
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Indiana governor declares emergency in response to HIV epidemic

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will declare a public health disaster emergency for Scott County in response to an HIV outbreak there, he announced today.

As of March 20, there have been 55 confirmed cases of HIV in the county and an additional 13 preliminary cases related to the outbreak, which was first reported in February, according to a press release.

The majority of cases have been traced to IV drug use of Opana (oxymorphone, Endo Pharmaceuticals), state epidemiologist Pam Pontones said during a media briefing. Others have been traced to IV methamphetamine use and possibly IV heroin use, she said.

“IV drug use is the main issue here, and it is one of the underlying issues that we have to address,” Pontones said.

The Indiana State Department of Health is working with local health officials, 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 also has created a public awareness campaign called “You Are Not Alone,” focusing on drug abuse, safe sex, needle disposal and HIV testing and treatment.

“I am deeply troubled by this outbreak, and stopping it is a top priority for our department,” Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, state health commissioner, said in a press release. “We are engaging local, state, and national partners to determine where we can most effectively focus our efforts. Extra care is being taken to invest resources in getting people off drugs and into treatment, since drug abuse is the clear driving force behind this outbreak.”