(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Health officials said on Friday that a HIV epidemic in rural Indiana among injection drug users is still not under control, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a nationwide alert.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced that he is extending a state of emergency to battle the epidemic, as officials say more than 140 cases have been reported this year in one small town.
“142 positive HIV tests have now been reported in southeastern Indiana. That's 136 confirmed and six preliminary and we literally have new cases being reported every day, literally on an hourly basis,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams on Friday.
Indiana Department of Health Chief Medical Consultant Joan Duwve said people are shooting up as often as 10 times a day and sharing with family and friends.
“They'll take the quarter of their oxymorphone pill, dissolve it, and inject it with whoever happens to be with them,” he said.
Duwye added that despite the agency’s efforts, new cases are being diagnosed daily.
“As of April 21st when the MSWR was written, a total of 135 persons have been diagnosed with HIV infection. The large majority of them residing in a city of only 4200 people,” Duwye said.
The CDC issued a warning on Friday to health officials nationwide over the increase in prescription drug abuse leading to a resurgence of HIV and hepatitis C.
CDC Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Jonathan Mermin, said needle sharing is to blame to the outbreak, and behind the nationwide warning.
“We're issuing a health advisory to alert public health departments and health care providers nationwide of the increasing Hepatitis C epidemic and the possibility of current or future HIV outbreaks among people who inject drugs,” he said on Friday.
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