Indiana state health examiners have confirmed 155 cases in the growing HIV outbreak throughout the southern portion of the state. In an attempt to curb the outbreak, the governor has started a needle-exchange program.
On May 14, health officials released their most up-to-date figures, showcasing the positive cases had increased from 153 just two days prior, on May 12.
All of the cases in the state’s largest HIV outbreak have occurred in Scott County, only 30 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. Health officials also believe that the outbreak began and has been fueled by needle-sharing throughout the drug community, as abusers are injecting a liquid painkiller called Opana, WTHITV News reported.
To combat the problem, Republican Gov. Mike Pence has issued a needle-exchange program in the county, hoping to remove all of the dangerous equipment currently in the hands of the public.
As of Thursday, 12,632 needles have been brought in through the Scott County Needle Exchange Program, and a total of 14,357 clean needles have been distributed. Roughly 326 people have participated in the program.
On May 14, the state’s epidemiologist, Pam Pontones, revealed that all citizens infected with the disease have the same strain of the virus, showcasing how quickly HIV can spread through needles and drug users. She also stated that the specific strain was created within the last six to 12 months.
“That particular strain has not been in this population very long. It’s very recent,” she commented.
Earlier this week, the Center for Disease Control studied different specimens from 72 contributors to understand more about the spread of the virus. Among the initial 72 infected participants, 69 of them had the same strain of HIV, The Guardian noted.
According to CDC spokeswoman Donnica Smalls, the Center is currently working on a final report that will showcase whether or not the virus has spread outside of the state or if it is related to other strains of HIV already known.
Photo Credit: The Chicago Tribune