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Scott County HIV outbreak’s source remains elusive

June 8, 2015 NDIANAPOLIS — Health officials are still searching for “patient zero” seven months after detecting HIV among

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Posted: Sunday, June 7, 2015 7:30 am

INDIANAPOLIS — Health officials are still searching for “patient zero” seven months after detecting HIV among drug users in the small, rural town of Austin.

As of Thursday, efforts to identify those infected with HIV had turned up 166 confirmed cases in and around the Scott County city. More work is being done to reveal harder-to-find cases, including the person who first brought the virus to the community where it quickly spread.

 

“We don’t know who that person is,” said state Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams. “There are so many rumors as to who it could be. The thing is, just when you think you’ve got it, you find out there was one more person before them.”

Sex or drugs could have been the route for the initial infection. At least 10 people infected with HIV in the outbreak have identified themselves as commercial sex workers who meet most of their customers at truck stops along Interstate 65.

Most of the people infected are drug users who’ve shared contaminated needles.

The risk of HIV transmission is higher among IV drug users.

“It’s like injecting yourself with the virus right into your bloodstream,” Adams said.

Finding the initial case is important because it will help health officials finally understand the scope of the outbreak.

Tests conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found almost all those infected in Scott County have the same strain of HIV with high viral loads — meaning they were highly infectious and recently infected.

Source: http://www.newsandtribune.com/news/scott-county-hiv-outbreak-s-source-remains-elusive/article_ab87b1f0-0bce-11e5-8e01-13919e2a1c92.html

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