Eight more cases of HIV confirmed in Scott County, Indiana - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Eight more cases of HIV confirmed in Scott County, Indiana

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Health officials in Scott County, Indiana said Tuesday there are eight more confirmed cases of HIV in the area.

The State Deputy Health Commissioner says there is now a total of 89 HIV cases in Scott County.

The Scott County Health Department says more than 300 dirty needles were turned in by four people since a clean needle exchange program began on Saturday.

168 clean needles have been distributed through the exchange program, officials say.

The health department has received reports of kids being stuck with stray needles that have washed up in the rain. When it rains, needles become everyone's problem because they wash into anyone's yard. Our news crew found two across the street from a church. Kids are finding them as well at playgrounds and at parks.

"We're getting reports of children being stuck by needles playing in the yard," said Amy Reel, a spokesperson with the Indiana Department of Health. "The community is very concerned about this."

"The needle exchange, specifically, I think, will help solve a lot of that so folks know where and how to dispose of dirty needles," said Dr. Jennifer Walthall, a deputy Indiana health commissioner.

Maintenance workers in Austin, Indiana are being asked to clean stray needles from area parks.

Donald Spicer, the police chief in Austin, says he is conflicted about providing clean needles to known drug users.

"It goes against what we do as police," he said. "We are law enforcement at the end of the day, but I have been convinced by experts around the country that this program will work."

Spicer says police are cracking down on those bringing drugs into the community -- and it's not always who you think.

"We made an arrest Friday of two older ladies for selling Opana," he said.

The Scott County Emergency Management Department is planning a community wide sweep on Saturday in Austin. Residents will be trained on how to properly and safely dispose of needles.

The Scott County Health Department has set up a "one stop" center as a way of helping to address the problem. The center offers free HIV testing, medical care coordinating, health insurance enrollment, mental health counseling, vaccinations and drug rehab referrals.

"This HIV outbreak is unprecedented and it requires a comprehensive community level, state level (and) federal (level plan). We're all working on this together to get this under control," said Reel.

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