Mobile unit set up in Scott Co. to deal with HIV epidemic - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mobile unit set up in Scott Co. to deal with HIV epidemic

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A mobile unit to deal with HIV cases has been set up near Foundations Family Medicine on west Main Street in Austin. A mobile unit to deal with HIV cases has been set up near Foundations Family Medicine on west Main Street in Austin.
AUSTIN, Ind. (WDRB) -- More help is now available for people affected by the HIV epidemic in Scott County.

State health officials want to make it as easy as possible for people to come to one location and find the resources they need. They say they currently have 74 confirmed cases of HIV, with seven more preliminary positives.

"We all are looking for when we'll know the full scope of this epidemic and we don't yet," said Deputy State Health Commissioner Jennifer Walthall Tuesday. 

The cases have all centered in Scott County, particularly the Austin area. The mobile unit is set up in the small town, near Foundations Family Medicine. 

"Out here we're signing folks up for insurance and making sure that they have all the documentation to do that appropriately." Walthall said. "And we are immunizing folks for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B." 

Inside the doctor's office, state health officials have started a weekly health clinic consisting of health care providers, infectious disease specialists, care coordinators, testers and substance abuse counselors. 

"They're not going to get better if they don't get help and they need medically supervised in-patient help to get better," said Alice Maynor, the assistant clinical director of recovery campus at LifeSpring Health Systems. 

Health officials say the HIV cases are tied to IV drug abuse. A short-term clean needle exchange program has been authorized but not set up yet. 

Walthall says there are several models for how to run a needle exchange program. 

"We really want the local community to have a voice so we're speaking with our patients today about what they need and we're speaking with local officials about how they want that model to work," she said. 

The goal is to get the program up and running by the end of the week, according to state health officials. The governor's executive order only lasts 30 days. 

State officials also want their current outreach efforts to expand. 

"The feedback has been that folks are pleased that they are getting access and attention that they need to get all the services," said Walthall. "Of course, folks are scared and they are hopeful that they're not abandoned in this time of need, and we can assure them that they will not be abandoned."

The Indiana State Department of Health says the Austin health clinic will be open every Tuesday. The services offered by the mobile unit will move to the Community Outreach Center on Wednesday. That location will be open daily. 

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