The Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, has declared a public health emergency in Scott County due to an HIV outbreak that has become an epidemic. This declaration orders the state the coordinate a multi-agency response, and offers additional tools to address the outbreak.

Seventy-nine confirmed cases of HIV originating in Scott County have been reported; these cases are related to the outbreak in southeastern Indiana and are all linked to injection drug abuse. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) have worked with local health officials, drug treatment facilities, medical providers, other State agencies, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to contain the outbreak and treat those who test HIV-positive. Additional staff from the CDC is expected to arrive next week.

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The Executive Order requires ISDH to set up an incident command center to coordinate HIV and substance abuse treatment. It also requires state and local health, law enforcement, emergency response agencies, as well as healthcare providers and hospitals to cooperate and assist in disaster response. A mobile one-stop shop will be set up to help individuals enrolling in HIP 2.0, offering vaccinations, and providing identification information. The Order also enables Scott County officials to take other necessary action in responding to the epidemic, including implementing a short-term needle exchange program to contain the epidemic.

The ISDH is simultaneously launching a regional campaign called “You Are Not Alone” that focuses on drug treatment, infection prevention, safe sex, needle disposal, and HIV testing and treatment.

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