“One is apt to think of an HIV epidemic in large cities or in under-developed areas around the world. On March 26, 2015, however, Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence proclaimed a public health emergency in the small town of Austin, Indiana. At that time, 74 cases of HIV had been confirmed there in three months. As of July 14, the number of confirmed cases had more than doubled, bringing the total to 174. This town of 4,200 people in rural Scott County Indiana now has an HIV infection rate comparable to that of sub-Saharan Africa.
Austin is like many other rural communities in America. A few downtown businesses line Main Street, while farmland and forest stretch out in all directions. Like many other small towns, Austin appears to have had much better, but still modest times. Unemployment is 3.5 percent higher than the national average and the annual per capita income is $16,000. The median age is 35.
The intravenous use of Opana (oxymorphone) is said to be the force behind Austin’s HIV epidemic. It is an oral prescription painkiller easily crushed and dissolved for injection. In Austin, it is thought that the number of injections per day can be as many as 15 per person.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams said there are three epidemics in Scott County: HIV, hepatitis C (HCV) and addiction. Eighty-six percent of those who are HIV positive have co-occurring HCV and 10 percent of the population is thought to be addicted.”
Source: ireta.org – July 23, 2015