Indiana To Declare Public Health Emergency Over Worst HIV Epidemic In State History
According to Daily Mail reports:
Indiana is set to declare a public health emergency to county an alarming increase in the rate of HIV infections.
Governor Mike Pence said Wednesday he’s mulling a needle exchange and other programs aimed at curbing the rise in infection rates that has been tied to intravenous drug use in southern Indiana.
HIV cases have ballooned in the state recently, with 72 cases confirmed and 7 others that preliminary tests say are positive, all coming out of Scott County.
Dr William Cooke, who runs a clinic in Austin, says his town has borne the brunt of growing intravenous drug use, seeing Hepatitis-C cases be replaced by bigger issues.
‘We’ve seen an increase in overdoses,’ Cooke told NBC. ‘We’ve identified that most of our IV drug users are Hepatitis-C positive. We knew it was a only matter of time until HIV set in.’
‘We need help. But that costs money. My clinic serves the poorest people in Indiana, potentially the poorest in the country,’ Cooke said.
‘We do a sliding scale here. If they can, they may pay us 10 dollars for care. I’m hopeful this declaration provides the funding we have needed.’
‘It’s overwhelming how much pain and suffering is going on here. We can provide a basic level of primary care. But some people can’t even afford 10 dollars.’
This is really crazy… We knew times were tough in America but had no idea that it was driving people to the needle!
The good news is the government officials in Indiana are treating the public health issue very seriously:
In the last month, Indiana has gone from 26 confirmed HIV cases, when officials first announced the outbreak, to 72 now.
Intravenous drug led to infection in almost all cases, according to state epidemiologist Pam Pontones.
Still, the number of HIV cases is estimated to rise in the coming weeks. Indiana officials know of up to 100 people that may be connected to those with confirmed cases and are trying to contact them.
Indiana is running an awareness campaign through billboards and social media aimed at warning residents about the outbreak exploding in south Indiana.
Dr Jerome Adams, the state health commissioner, said a mobile health unit is being sent with= resources that the state hopes will aid in the outbreak.
Pontones said staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who arrived in the area Monday, agreed with state officials that the outbreak ‘is an indicator of a larger problem’ of drug use driven by poverty.
‘With the amount of drug use that’s happening and the intravenous needle-sharing that’s going on, if someone who’s highly infectious becomes part of that sharing network, that infection can transmit very rapidly,’ Pontones said.
She said the vast majority of the people who’ve become infected during the outbreak shared a syringe with someone else while injecting a liquid form of the prescription painkiller Opana.
It’s crazy people are still sharing needles in this day and age. We hope that they get a fix on this quickly. Sounds like people are really hurting in Indiana.