HIV Outbreak a Result of Drug Use in Austin, Indiana

Posted on May 07, 2015

The rural town of Austin, Indiana is dealing with an HIV outbreak. The outbreak is largely a result of dirty needles being handed around among drug addicts.

Dr. Daniel Amen and other experts believe the problem in this particular town is misinformation. Attempts to curb the outbreak are being interfered with by erroneous beliefs about what would be effective. Governor Mike Pence recently authorized a needle exchange program to help curb the outbreak, but it is not being run effectively by local officials at this point. Additionally, addiction treatment is not being offered immediately to residents who need it, even though they have officially been given priority. It is also proving to be difficult to get the individuals who have tested HIV positive onto medication and treatment that they need.

The habits of addicts who do not understand the health risks are absolutely egregious, including using the same needle 300 times in some cases. HIV specialists have come in from Indianapolis. They have examined about 50 people who are infected at this point, and about 20 of them have been started on antiretroviral drugs. The specialists note all of the misinformation that is contributing to the current epidemic.

An additional complication involves resistance to the needle exchange program. Many residents, including the governor himself, are generally opposed to programs like this one, feeling that it encourages drug use.

However, the needle exchange program is hoping, and the related problems are diminishing.