Via The Giveaway, a Scottsburg newspaper, a March 25 report: Efforts increase in local war waged against HIV; new clinics, call for ‘clean needles’. Excerpt:
Since the news that cases of HIV were being diagnosed in Scott County at the beginning of March, the number of people who are infected has increased from 26 to 55.
Several other cases, up to 13, have been labeled positive in preliminary testing, with those to yet be confirmed, advised Scott County Public Health Nurse Brittany Combs. Two cases involve pregnant women.
This information has been released to help local people understand that more cases of HIV, which can lead to AIDS if untreated, are being identified so that those afflicted can seek help. Combs noted that the number of HIV positive cases could reach up to 100, a statement verified by Clark County authority, Dr. Kevin Burke.
Several people are being contacted by health authorities for testing since they are known to have come into contact with individuals who have already tested positively for HIV.
These facts should encourage others to get tested, particularly if they are participating in high risk behavior, such as sharing needles when using drugs, engaging in unprotected sex or having sex with a prostitute, also known as a “commercial sex worker.”
People who have HIV can be helped, but they must get professional assistance to obtain medication. “They’re afraid,” said Dr. Deepak Azad, a Scott County physician and former president of the Indiana State Medical Association. “They think it’s a death knell. It doesn’t have to be, but we need to get people tested and treated.”
Because the Scott County Health Department previously had to refer all of its suspected cases to a Clark County clinic, there is the likelihood that some people were never diagnosed. Now, however, the Health Department on U.S. Highway 31 North in Scottsburg has set up its own clinic.
“It’s going very well,” reported Combs. “We’ve had several people come to us for testing. Everything is free, and it is confidential.”
Testing is offered on Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment is necessary. Results are available within 30 minutes.
People who would like to undergo testing can come to the Scott County department or visit the Clark County STD Center. Its staff can be reached at 1-800-828-5624, advised Combs.
Anyone wanting more information about the free testing may call the Health Department at 812-752-8455.
In addition, free HIV testing is being offered on Thursday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Foundations Family Medicine, 25 West Main Street, Austin. The confidential testing is offered by Positive Link, a program of the Indiana University Health Department/Bloomington Hospital Community Health.
Testing at a Clark County clinic since mid-December revealed the increase, with most believed to have become infected through shared needles while injecting Opana, a powerful painkiller abused by some. The rising popularity of heroin, also injected by syringe, is also blamed.