The Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington observed World AIDS Day with a panel discussion about this year’s HIV outbreak in southern Indiana.
The panel, sponsored by the school and its Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention, took place at 7 p.m. December 1 at the Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union.
The focus of the panel discussion, which was free and open to the public, centered on the dramatic increase in the spread of HIV infection in southern Indiana’s Scott County earlier this year. In an area that historically saw fewer than five cases of HIV annually, the outbreak grew to more than 180 cases and is directly linked the sharing of contaminated syringes.
This panel discussed the reasons behind the outbreak and the challenges facing those who have been trying to stop it.
The panel discussed the cooperative efforts by the School of Public Health-Bloomington, the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention, and agencies and stakeholders across the state and nation.
“This panel brings together people from all aspects of the outbreak response: our colleagues from the state who led the response effort; the Centers for Disease Control, who provided field epidemiologists and counsel; our local AIDS community partners, who left their current jobs to assist in Scott County; and Scott County’s public health leadership,” said Dr. Beth Meyerson, co-director of Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention.
The panel included Dr. Meyerson, as well as:
Dr. William Yarber, Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention senior director, served as moderator.
Scott County is believed to be representative of rural America and could be an example of the vulnerabilities hiding in other small towns all over the country.
An estimated 34 million people are living with HIV around the world. More than 35 million people have died from HIV, which makes it one of the deadliest viruses in history. World AIDS Day, held on the first of December every year, is an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV and become educated about the virus. Recent trends have indicated that far from being eliminated, the spread of HIV is hitting all too close to home.