Amid Indiana witnessing an HIV crisis with 55 reported cases, the federal health experts have come in to attempt containing the deadly outbreak in the state’s southern part.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health officials, 55 confirmed cases of HIV and 13 other preliminary positive cases have been reported so far in the state.
A medical team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will on Monday arrive in Scott County in order to assist the state health department officials with follow-up contacts of HIV-positive patients and data analysis.
In a news release, Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams said, “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.”
According to the federal agency, the outbreak is believed to be triggered due to use of shared needles by most of the infected people while injecting a painkiller called Opana. It is a prescription drug which is more potent than Oxycontin. The agency has linked some of the HIV cases to the unprotected sex.
The outbreak was first reported by the health department in late February, when 26 HIV-positive cases were diagnosed over the last two months in five counties: Jackson, Washington, Scott, Perry, and Clark.
CDC spokesman Amy Reel said that the positive thing is that the HIV outbreak is currently limited to those counties and not spread to other regions.
Indiana reported 405 confirmed cases of HIV in 2012.
The health department has started a public awareness campaign called, You Are Not Alone, providing information on safe sex, needle disposal, drug abuse and HIV testing as well as treatment.
The campaign that began on Friday will continue for three-month and will include digital, radio and social media advertisements and billboards.
The department’s hotline offering information about HIV testing locations as well as care can be reached at 866-588-4948.