The HIV outbreak is impacting southern Indiana's economy - WDRB 41 Louisville News

The HIV outbreak is impacting southern Indiana's economy

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Business owners in Scott Co. are worried the HIV epidemic is scaring away their customers. Business owners in Scott Co. are worried the HIV epidemic is scaring away their customers.

SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) -- Scott County, Indiana is in the midst of a public health emergency with 160 confirmed HIV positive cases.

Officials say it's being fueled by drug use and prostitution.

We've told you stories about those topics and showed you syringes we've found on city streets.

In turn, that news is causing some to bypass towns like Austin and Scottsburg.

"I haven't seen any customer drop here, but I think other people have,” said Russell Beach, owner of Ice Cream Dessert Factory.

Beach's business is on the Scottsburg square.

He says it's apparent some people are hesitant to eat or stay in a place that's currently being defined by the historic HIV outbreak.

"I understand because of the fears but knowing the issue and how it's contracted and how it's passed on, there's no way to get it from eating food,” said Beach.

Beach says food safety is his number one concern and it's frustrating to see fewer people at local restaurants.

"It's pretty sad people think there could be some danger because I'm 100 percent sure it's safe,” he said.

"It's affected morale and overall economy in Scott County I'd say,” said Brandon Polley, the marketing director for the Scott County Visitor's Commission.

"Places around here have had to kind of market a little bit extra saying hey, we're taking precautions," Polley said.

He's worried some interstate visitors they used to draw in are no longer stopping.

"You're kind of missing out if you don't stop and see the individual small towns of Indiana and we're one of them,” said Polley.

Polley wants those from out of town to know it's still safe to visit.

"We still have a lot of good things going on here,” he said.

Tourism numbers were down in the month of April but it's too soon to know if that's because of the HIV outbreak, according to Polley.

He said he'll know more in the coming months about how the HIV outbreak is impacting Scott County tourism.

More coverage of the southern Indiana HIV outbreak here

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