HIV/AIDS: Jolted into Action, Indiana Races to Respond

In the worst HIV outbreak in its history, the US state of Indiana has traced its origins largely to IV drug use of the prescription painkiller Opana.

More than 80 people have tested positive since December, mostly in the last few weeks, in rural Scott County, most in the town of Austin, south of Indianapolis. The town’s only doctor, William Cooke, who is organizing a whirlwind response to the crisis, said that 8 in 10 of those who have acknowledged sharing needles with someone who has the virus testing positive—indicating “a very high viral load in the community right now,” he said.

Cooke is launching a free specialty clinic to address the crisis, and Indiana’s governor, Mike Pence, declared a public health emergency in the county late last week, and authorized a short-term needle exchange program in a bid to stop the spread of the virus through contaminated needles.

The New York Times

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