At a medical office in Austin, Ind., the local nurse and manager Jeanni McCarty who is at the middle of the dilemma , explains the situation where the HIV outbreak is now going out of hand . The condition is so critical that on Thursday the governor claimed a health emergency .
Austin is where McCarty grew up , but now at 42 she could see that everything had completely changed . She is still living in Scott County , in the southeast corner of Indiana . She says “ It’s not what it used to be” . She described her place where people are living so poorly without jobs or opportunity to apply for a job and a “ very , very serious drug problem that has made us the epicenter of the HIV outbreak.”
The outbreak is reportedly associated with the illegal use of contaminated syringes. Gov .Mike Pence had agreed to authorize a temporary exchange to stop the spread of HIV . Indiana’s anti-drug policy prohibits the needle-exchange but since it is now badly needed , the program of trading dirty needles for uncontaminated ones must then proceed.
“This is all hands on deck. This is a very serious situation,” stated the republican governor .
“Scott County is facing an epidemic of HIV, but this is not a Scott County problem; this is an Indiana problem,” announced Pence to the health emergency and executive order.
The order also includes setting up a command center to coordinate HIV and substance-abuse treatments . They are also establishing a public awareness program to educate people about safe sex and needle disposal .
McCarty explains that there is just one medical office in Austin which is theFoundations Family Medicine where there is only one doctor, three nurse practitioners , five nurses and two medical assistants to attend to 12,000 patients who came to seek medical help.
“It’s been a long time coming,” McCarty said. “About three to four years ago, we noticed a big increase in the number of hepatitis C cases.” There’s not just HIV among patients , there are also a number of cases with Hepatitis C which is also spread through blood by illegal drug use.
“A lot of the problem comes from poverty,” she said. “These people don’t have education to get jobs. Resources are so limited.”