Health Officials Used Genetic Testing to Link Cases in 2015 HIV Outbreak in Indiana

Alexander Traksel/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study on Wednesday revealed the extent and cause of a 2015 HIV outbreak in a small area of Indiana that saw 157 related cases of the disease identified, all linked to intravenous drug use.

According to the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, many of the cases of HIV in Scott County were linked to an opioid drug called oxymorphone. Before last year’s outbreak, only five cases of HIV were diagnosed in Scott County between 2004 and 2013.

Between Nov. 18, 2014 and Nov. 1, 2015, 181 people in Scott County were diagnosed with HIV, and testing proved that 157 of those cases were “highly related.”

Researchers used complicated genetic analysis to prove the link between the cases in Indiana.

As a response to the outbreak, the local health department established a needle-exchange program, free HIV testing and partner services, immediate access to health insurance and general education in an effort to curb the rate of HIV transmission.

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