In a health advisory about the HIV epidemic in southern Indiana, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted, “Urgent action is needed to prevent further HIV and HCV transmission in this area and to investigate and control any similar outbreaks in other communities.”
An on-going investigation by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and the CDC identified 153 confirmed cases of HIV infection in southeast Indiana, as of presstime for this issue.
State, local and federal officials are responding to the outbreak through several measures, including a One-Stop Shop for services at the Austin Community Outreach Center, a weekly HIV testing and treatment clinic, a needle exchange program operated by the Scott County Health Department and an HIV public awareness campaign called You Are Not Alone.
A limited, focused short-term needle exchange program for Scott County residents only is being supervised by the ISDH. Participants are provided substance abuse, mental health and other appropriate resources at every visit. To date, 8,292 needles have been surrendered and 9,491 needles have been provided.
Hoosiers who do not have health care coverage or access to a doctor are introduced to the Healthy Indiana Plan – HIP 2.0 at www.HIP.IN.gov. Potential enrollees also can call 1-877-GET-HIP-9. More than 200 persons have been newly enrolled in HIP from the area.
Here’s how you can help
Physicians and all health care providers are urged to:
- Ensure all persons diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) infection are tested for HIV and that all persons with HIV are tested for HCV.
- Ensure persons receiving treatment for HIV and/or HCV infection adhere to prescribed therapy and receive ongoing care.
- Encourage HIV and HCV testing of syringe-sharing and sexual partners of persons diagnosed with either infection.
- Report all newly diagnosed HIV and HCV infections to the health department.
- For persons with substance abuse problems:
- Refer them for medication-assisted treatment and counseling services.
- Use effective treatments (e.g., methadone, buprenorphine), as appropriately indicated.
- For any persons for whom opioids are being considered for pain management:
- Discuss the risks and benefits of all pain treatment options, including ones that do not involve prescription analgesics.
- Note that long-term opioid therapy is not associated with reduced chronic pain.
- Contact the state or local health department to report suspected clusters of recent HIV or HCV infection.
The Health Advisory from the CDC is available here.
Find Indiana specific information on ISDH website.
See recommendations for testing, managing and treating hepatitis C here.