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Friday, February 27, 2015

HIV Outbreak Linked to IV Opana Use

Today, when most people think of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), they envision the deadly disease affecting people in Africa or in other developing nations around the world. However, HIV still disrupts the lives of many Americans, contracted through risky sexual behavior and intravenous drug use.

While efforts to provide clean needles and education programs for safer drug use have diminished HIV prevalence dramatically, there are still a number of Americans contracting the deadly virus. The opioid epidemic in America has lead many abusers to crush pills into powder for injection, and with IV drug use often comes the sharing of needles.

In Indiana, health officials report a fast-spreading outbreak of HIV due to the injection of one particular drug, the painkiller Opana, USA Today Reports. Per milligram, Opana is more powerful than OxyContin.

"Addicts use and misuse needles," said Karyn Hascal, president of The Healing Place in Louisville, which serves Southern Indiana addicts. "When you have injectable drugs like prescription pills and other narcotics being abused as much as they have been, (Hepatitis) C and HIV are soon to follow. I knew that HIV and Hep C would come back."

State health officials have confirmed 26 HIV cases, and have four additional suspected cases, according to the article. The outbreak is the largest the state has ever seen in one region, and most of the cases can be directly linked to the injection of Opana.

“Because prescription drug abuse is at the heart of this outbreak, we are not only working to identify, contact and test individuals who may have been exposed, but also to connect community members to resources for substance abuse treatment and recovery,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner, Jerome Adams in a statement.

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