Scott County HIV epidemic more than just a drug problem - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Scott County HIV epidemic more than just a drug problem

Posted: Updated:
Far fewer drug addicts are sharing needles in Scott County, Indiana, thanks to the work of one woman. Far fewer drug addicts are sharing needles in Scott County, Indiana, thanks to the work of one woman.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Far fewer drug addicts are sharing needles in Scott County, Indiana, thanks to the work of one woman. However, Scott County Public Health Nurse Brittany Combs is saying there is still a lot of work to do to fight the biggest HIV outbreak in Indiana’s history -- that has nothing to do with drug use.

“You have to meet their basic needs,” Combs told WDRB News.

It may sound simple, but Combs and her co-workers at times spend their own money on food, water and clothing for IV drug users seeking help.

“When people constantly keep telling you they haven't eaten in four days, what do you do? You feed them,” Combs said. “We've taken people toilet paper who didn't have any toilet paper, I mean that’s what you do.”

Combs designed the needle exchange program. She says more than half of the estimated 400 IV drug users in the area are active in the program.

“We're constantly getting new ones. We have some dropping out because they're going to rehab, which is our ultimate goal so it's working really, really well,” Combs said.

That work earned Combs a Florence Nightingale Nursing Award from the University of Louisville Thursday night.

“It's very rewarding, but I wish I could bring everybody that helped,” Combs said.

Despite the progress so far she says the fight continues to be an uphill battle.

“We don't have any detox centers, we don't have any medication assisted treatment, we don't have any inpatient treatment and they have to go out of county to do that,” Combs said.

Another hurdle Combs adds is that many of the IV drug users are homeless, so it's hard for them to stock up on canned goods from food pantries. She says many churches in Scott County have stepped up  to provide hot meals.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved. 

  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.