HIV cases up to 169 in Scott County, Indiana health officials say


Indiana state health officials provided an update Wednesday on the HIV outbreak in Scott County. So far, 169 patients have tested positive for HIV in Scott County.

Governor Mike Pence permitted the institution of a Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) in Scott County for a period of 30 days following the announcement of an outbreak. That was extended at the beginning of April and approved by the Indiana State Health Department for an additional one-year period. Health officials say SEPs are highly effective forms of disease control and prevention scientifically proven to reduce the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis B and C. 

See all stories about the HIV outbreak here.

In addition, a community outreach center was opened by state health officials this spring in response to the epidemic. The center is located in Austin which has been identified as the outbreak's epicenter.

The HIV outbreak was attributed to needle-sharing among intravenous drug users. Current investigation statistics show that out of the 491 total contacts found, 408 have been located and offered testing. Of those located, 169 have tested positive for HIV and 257 have shown negative test results. The remaining 83 have been placed under an "other" category that includes 46 people who haven't been located and 21 who have refused testing. 16 out of the remaining 83 are reportedly out of jurisdiction, deceased, or without lab record.

Scott County will also be served by two care coordinators and a disease intervention specialist. In addition to those positions, the total annual cost to deal with the epidemic - including epidemiologists, microbiologists and other trained scientists - is $1.1 million.

The Scott County Board of Commissioners has high hopes for the success of the Syringe Exchange Program, along with the additional services provided by local and national health organizations. The combined efforts of employees and volunteers have helped to identify and slow the spread of HIV in the community.