HIV spreading at disturbing rate in southern Indiana - WDRB 41 Louisville News

HIV spreading at disturbing rate in southern Indiana

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- HIV is spreading at a disturbing rate in southern Indiana, affecting some of our local counties. Doctors say they believe they know what is behind the outbreak.

The outbreak has infected 26 people in Clark, Jackson, Perry, Scott and Washington counties. 

Doctor Kevin Burke, Clark County's health officer and the medical director at a clinic which tests and treats HIV patients, says the majority of the cases are in Scott county -- where they typically might only see a handful of new HIV cases in a whole year. 

"In Scott County where I believe these all, or almost all, these cases are, we would see about 5 cases per year," said Burke. 

The 26 cases have been confirmed since just December. Plus, an additional four people have been tested and are presumed HIV positive, says Burke.

The culprit? Drug use. 

Health officials have linked the majority of cases to people sharing needles while using the painkiller opana. There is no cure for the lifelong disease, which requires a lot of medical care. 

"We're encouraging people who have risky behaviors to get tested and consider getting help with their behavior that puts them at risk," said Burke.

Doctors say to reduce the risk of HIV do not inject drugs, share or re-use needles, or have unprotected sex. Officials say once you have re-used someone's needle, it may take three months or more to find out if you have HIV.

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