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HIV outbreak continues in Indiana

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An outbreak of HIV in rural Indiana that was first reported last winter is continuing, with the number of new infections increasing rapidly.

At the end of March there were 26 confirmed cases of HIV in Scott County Indiana, according to The Fix. By early May that number was up to 150, in an area with a population of just 4,200 people.

The HIV outbreak has been linked to abuse of the prescription opiate Opana and shared needles, according to reports.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence declared a state of emergency at the end of March, and that declaration continues today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other non-profits have joined together to fight the epidemic, with everything from public outreach to needle exchange programs.

However, in the rural area stigma - against drug abuse and HIV - has hindered efforts to stem the outbreak.

“There are still a significant proportion of people in [Scott County] who have biases about H.I.V. and are contributing to the stigma and subsequent fear,”  Dr. Diane Janowicz, an infectious disease specialist at Indiana University, told The New York Times.

 

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