Indiana targets travelers and truckers with HIV prevention campaign
SCOTT COUNTY, Ind. (WDRB) – The HIV prevention campaign launched by the Indiana State Department of Health is targeting a specific set of people.
Health officials say 145 people in southeastern Indiana have now tested positive for HIV. Officials began the campaign by reaching out to drug users and now they're targeting travelers and truckers along I-65 between Indianapolis and Louisville.
"I had a brother die from AIDS actually, so I know what it's like," said Mark Barnett.
Bennett has spent the past 35 years driving big rigs and said some truck drivers are known to be promiscuous and use drugs. He supports the outreach program for that reason.
“Believe it or not, there's probably a lot of truck drivers out here that are doing it too. Myself, I don't. I don't even drink, but it don't surprise me," said Barnett.
The "You Are Not Alone" campaign uses billboards and ads reminding people to know their HIV status and always practice safe sex. Even the Indiana Motor Truck Association is reaching out to its 230 carriers.
"We've let them know what's going on; that they do expect more cases to come up and if they have had truck drivers in that area to make them aware of what's going on," said IMTA Vice President Barbara Hunt.
While the government uses a campaign others turn to Christ.
“We need to get together and start praying," said Pastor David Carroll of Vienna Baptist Church in Scottsburg.
He and others meet at a different Scott County church every Monday night. In the past seven weeks, their prayer walk has grown to more than 200.
“We believe that Jesus Christ is the way," said Carroll. "He said I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the father but by me. We believe that we have seen firsthand the differences being made by people coming together calling out to him. We see it firsthand. It's that important."
The state health commissioner has also sent letters to the owners of 15 travel plazas along I-65 asking them to support the campaign. It'll even include door decals, posters and flyers place in areas frequented by truck drivers.
"They just need to smarten up, it will kill you," said Barnett.
The state has spent about $300,000 on the "You Are Not Alone" campaign.
Health officials are still deciding on where exactly the billboards and signs will be placed.
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