A recent report released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recounted that a preliminary genetic analysis of specimens taken from infected individuals tied to the recent HIV outbreak in Indiana revealed that the specimens consist of mostly the same strain of the virus. The CDC studied the HIV containing samples from 72 patients and found that 69 cases involved the same viral strain. This analysis highlights how rapidly the spread of a single strain of the virus can occur through needle sharing activities associated with intravenous drug use, with the same strain of the virus spreading quickly throughout counties in Southern Indiana among intravenous drug users. Nearly 154 cases of HIV have been reported by the Indiana Department of Health since December, mostly in rural Scott County and neighboring counties. A prior report released by the CDC found that 80% of infected patients reported injection drug use and among these patients reporting drug use, all reported oxymorphone as their drug of choice.
In light of this HIV epidemic, controversial solutions have been proposed by public health official as means of reducing the spread of the HIV virus. Needle exchange programs are one such initiative that has been deemed effective by the World Health Organization (WHO) in reducing HIV transmission among injecting drug users. Needle Exchange Programs allow drug users to obtain sterile drug injecting equipment at little to no cost. Recently, the Indiana House Committee on Public Health passed a measure for the temporary institution of such a program in counties with high rates of HIV or the Hepatitis C virus, which is also spread through needle sharing and serves as an early indicator for HIV transmission.
Community Outbreak of HIV Infection Linked to Injection Drug Use of Oxymorphone — Indiana, 2015. (05/0102015). Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6416a4.htm?s_cid=mmmm6416a4_w