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Indiana: HIV Outbreak Plateaued

Indiana: HIV Outbreak Plateaued


State epidemiologist says epidemic has peaked.

The largest HIV outbreak in Indiana's history has reached its peak, according to the state's epidemiologist. 

The number of new cases in southern Indiana has dropped from a high of 22 to just one or two new diagnoses each week, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. Currently, there are 175 HIV-positive people living in southern Indiana. 

"We certainly do feel that at this point the outbreak has peaked," Pam Pontones, state epidemiologist said, according to the Associated Press. "We are seeing very few new cases. We might have one, maybe two in a week, (and sometimes none)." 

Health officials first began traking the outbreak earlier this year when the only private doctor in Austin, a town of 4,200 in Scott County, noticed an uptick of both hepatitis C infections and injection drug use. Dr. William Cooke then alerted state and federal authorities for help in testing and diagnosing the injection drug using population. 

Between late March and early May, 153 people had been diagnosed. In April, Governor Mike Pence declared a public health emergency in southern Indiana and allowed a temporary needled exchange to begin, despite state laws against such exchanges. 

Even though diagnoses have slowed and Pontones told reporters that 85 percent of the 494 people at risk have been contacted, officials continue to seek out people who shared needles or had sexual contact with HIV-positive partners.  

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