by Lizzy Adie, 26th April, 2:00pm.
The number of HIV infected people in a rural Indiana country has grown. According to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), the Institute is working with state health leaders to control the “severe outbreak”, which has spread among users of a prescription Opioid called Opana.
The Outbreak has been ongoing since Mid-December. As of Friday, 142 people have tested positive for HIV, with 136 confirmed cases and six more with preliminary positive test results, all in rural Scott and Jackson counties. This is a huge number of cases for an area that has a population of only a few thousand people.
The CDC and state health leaders held a news conference on Friday to talk about the new numbers and about the growing threat of the spread of disease from IV drug use, especially in isolated rural areas that have spares health resources.
Scott county, the epicenter of the Outbreak has only one doctor who deals with infectious diseases, but the doctor is not an HIV specialist, the State of Department of Health said since the rampant HIV outbreak was first noticed in mid – December, the state have tried to flood the area with additional resources. Indiana declared a public health emergency in that County in March.
Indiana University has sent health volunteers to provide a clinic, open once a week to help treat people and test them for HIV. These workers are also going door to door to try to educate the population about the danger of sharing needles.
Another reason this infection has spread so rapidly is the nature of the drug itself . Opana, as the prescription Opioid is known, needs to be injected more than once a day. Duwve said residents have reported injecting it four to ten times a day to stay under its influence. When people start to feel the drug wear off after about four hours, they begin to feel sick and go into withdrawal. Often, they will turn to an injecting partner in the same house who will share their needle and their drug to give the person relief from these symptoms.
The other problem with this drug is that it requires a larger gauge needle that exposes users to more blood , which increases the risk of infection.
The CDC said “the situation in Indiana should serve as a warning not to let our guard down. Mermin said” this is a powerful reminder “that HIV and other infectious diseases can gain grounds at any time, unless you remain vigilant.