Friday, February 12, 2016

HIV outbreak in rural Ind., driven by intravenous drug use, puts other rural areas on notice

Last year's outbreak of HIV in rural Indiana—blamed on a rise in intravenous drug use—has put other rural areas on notice to look for warning signs to prevent a similar epidemic in their necks of the woods. The number of HIV cases in southeastern Indiana, mostly around Austin in Scott County, stands at 188, according to state data. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released in December said that rural areas lack prevention services for opiate addiction and HIV infections.

The Indiana epidemic has put Virginia officials on notice, Becca Pizmoht reports for the Madison County Eagle. While HIV rates remain stable statewide, "concern grows that rural counties are seeing a disproportionate number of new cases. Several factors are cited as possible causes, including lack of available education and testing and increased intravenous drug use in rural populations." Madison County (Family Search map), population of 13,000, has not had any reported HIV diagnoses since 2011, but adjoining Greene County (18,000) has had six and Orange County (34,000) eight.

Ann Rhoades, director of HIV Surveillance in Virginia, told Pizmoht, “After the Indiana outbreak we have been watching rural areas more closely. Urban areas have a lot of available testing and there are needle exchange and education programs in place. We need to have education and testing available to our rural populations because there is a stigma attached to HIV sometimes people in small communities aren’t willing to get tested.” (Read more)

No comments: