Hospital, health officials respond to Indiana county HIV outbreak 'disaster'

In a short span of time, the number of individuals infected with HIV has soared in one Indiana county, leading Gov. Mike Pence to declare a public health disaster in the county, according to a Reuters report.

In years past, Scott County — located roughly 35 miles north of Louisville, Ky. — has reported fewer than five new HIV cases each year. In 2014, the county was home to just 21 residents with the virus.

Since December, the county has confirmed 72 new cases of HIV and seven preliminary cases, leading local officials to fear the number of cases could actually be as high as 100. All of the recent cases associated with the outbreak have been tied to intravenous drug use as opposed to sexual transmission.

"This is a public health emergency," Gov. Pence told Reuters. "Now I'm evaluating all of the issues and all of the tools that may be available to local health officials in light of a public health emergency."

In response to the outbreak, Indiana will set up a mobile command center to provide additional resources to help Scott County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also gotten involved, sending several officials to the community to help follow up with the contacts of the diagnosed individuals, according to the report.

Scott Memorial Hospital, located within the affected country, has also begun preparing to assist in any way possible, according to Katy Hutchinson, director of business development at the hospital.

"Our mission is making our community healthier, and we're committed to supporting the Scott County Health Department, the local providers and the Get Healthy, Scott County! Coalition in responding to the recent HIV outbreak in the region," Ms. Hutchinson said in a statement. "In partnership with the organizations, we're offering hope to the community by assisting a comprehensive plan to provide education and address access to needed medical care."



More articles on HIV:
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HIV drug may combat strep throat, flesh-eating bacteria
Patients motivated to control their HIV with financial incentives

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