Additional HIV Cases Prompt Public Health Warning

HealthAdditional HIV cases in southern Indiana have prompted a warning from the Indiana Department of Health about risky behavior. The four new cases bring the total number of people who have tested positive for HIV to 188. State officials say the outbreak has been linked to shared needles among injection drug users. All of the newly diagnosed cases are contacts of cases previously identified in the outbreak, according to health department officials.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams expects more cases of HIV to be diagnosed as testing continues. He says stopping risky behaviors like sharing needles and having unprotected sex is the best defense against HIV. Adams notes pre-exposure prophylaxis can help those who are still battling addiction. He urges physicians to talk frankly with their patients about their risks and whether medication is appropriate for them.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis consists of a combination of two HIV medications that are taken daily by mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says daily use can reduce the risk of contracting HIV through sexual contact by more than 90 percent and through injection drug use by more than 70 percent.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis is recommended for people who have injected drugs in the past six months and have shared needles or works and for those who have been in drug treatment in the past six months. Federal guidelines also recommend it be considered for people who are HIV negative but are in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner or others who are at high risk of contracting HIV through sexual contact. Before taking PrEP, a patient must have an HIV test and must be retested every three months while taking the medication.

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