Downstate HIV Outbreak Brings Recommendations from Local Health Department

An HIV outbreak in downstate Indiana has state health officials responding.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there have been 26 confirmed cases of the disease since mid-December. That same report says those cases find common ground in prescription drug and injection abuse.

Although not in the immediate area, Starke County Health Department Nurse Frank Lynch says there are ways to protect yourself.

“You want to reduce the risk? Avoid injection drug use, do not share needles or reuse needles, don’t engage in unprotected sex, and don’t use prostitutes,” says Lynch.

The particular drug in question is a pill considered more potent than Oxycontin.

Like many counties in the Hoosier state, Starke county has residents combating injection drug abuse.

Lynch says the state is trying to work with local health departments to help contain the spread of HIV in the southern Indiana area.

“In the meantime, they’re also trying to get people help as far as getting away from drug abuse and with the hotline number that they’ve got out for that and then also going through to offer testing,” says Lynch.

Area residents are advised to receiving proper testing if they believe they’ve been infected with the virus.

According to the State Department of Health, HIV can take up to three months to appear in a person’s system.