An HIV “epidemic” fueled by needle-sharing opiate addicts has infected at least 72 people in one southern Indiana county as Gov. Mike Pence plans to declare a public health emergency in that community on Thursday.
The outbreak’s swift acceleration in Scott County — beginning with seven known HIV-positive patients in late January — has prompted state officials to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to deploy investigators to test residents and to help control further spread of the virus, Pence said.
CDC staff arrived on Monday and “traveled to the community … an epidemic ‘aid team.’ I met with them late Monday,” Pence told reporters in Scottsburg, the county seat. “And they informed me that they had confirmed that we have an epidemic in Scott County.”
Another seven residents from the area also tested “preliminary positive” for HIV — all similarly linked to opiate injections with dirty needles — bringing the possible caseload to nearly 80, Pence said.
“This is not a Scott County problem, this is an Indiana problem,” he said. “People of Indiana are here to come along side our fellow Hoosiers here in Scott County and work this problem and deal with this crisis in a way that will save lives and restore health and law and order to this community,” the governor added.