5. Indiana HIV Outbreak Linked to Opioid Injection

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In January the Indiana State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began investigating an outbreak of HIV in rural Scott County, near the Kentucky border. The CDC issued an official health advisory in April, and CDC and Indiana investigators published a report in the May 1 edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Investigators traced the new HIV infections -- as well as hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections -- to people who inject oxymorphone (Opana), a prescription opioid painkiller. At the International AIDS Society conference in July John Brooks from the CDC's HIV Epidemiology Team described efforts to determine the source ofthe outbreak, trace patterns of transmission, halt further infections, and bring affected people into care.

At the IDWeek meeting in October, Monita Patel from the CDC presented findings showing that an emergency syringe exchange program implemented in response to the outbreak led to a decrease in risk behaviors including needle sharing. 

The CDC estimates that at least 200 communities in 26 states are vulnerable to injection-related HIV and HCV outbreaks like the one in Indiana, CDC director Thomas Frieden said in his closing remarks at the 2015 National HIV Prevention Conference in December

Several speakers at the conference emphasized the need to lift the ban on use of federal funds for syringe distribution. A budget bill passed soon thereafter included language that will enable cities and states to use federal money for program expenses other than syringes themselves.

NEXT: 6. New TAF Version of Tenofovir Approved in Combo Pill