Indiana health officials on Friday said there are two dozen new HIV cases in southeastern Indiana, bringing the outbreak's total cases to 130.
The Indiana State Department of Health said there are now 120 confirmed HIV cases and 10 preliminary positive cases. That's up from 106 last week. Those infected either live in Scott County or have ties to the area. The outbreak among intravenous drug users is centered in the city of Austin.
State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams called the new numbers a "significant increase," adding that Scott County typically sees only about five new HIV cases a year.
The Indiana outbreak is unique because officials say all cases have been tied to intravenous drug use. Initial cases were diagnosed after people injected themselves with the powerful painkiller Opana, which contains oxymorphone, officials said. People also have become infected after injecting other drugs including methamphetamine, officials said.
Gov. Mike Pence temporarily waived Indiana's ban on needle-exchange programs for Scott County. Such programs provide intravenous drug users with sterile needles in an effort to prevent infections from the sharing of contaminated needles. Officials say so far 5,322 clean syringes have been provided to 86 participants. That's twice the number previously reported.
Pence also ordered the state health department to set up a command center to coordinate HIV and substance abuse treatment and establish a mobile unit to enroll people in a state-run health program.
“This is all hands on deck. This is a very serious situation," Pence said at a news conference in March.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press