Positive Link is extending its reach to help those in the five southeastern Indiana counties affected by the recent increase in cases of HIV by offering free testing from 1 to 5 p.m. July 30 in Seymour and North Vernon.
Positive Link serves 23 Indiana counties, including Jackson, Jennings and Lawrence, which are located in proximity to the new cases of HIV.
The free testing in Seymour will be offered at Walgreens, 319 E. Tipton St., and in North Vernon at the Walgreens store at 9 N. State St. To schedule an appointment, call 812-353-9150.
The Jackson County Health Department also continues to offer free HIV testing by appointment. Call 812-522-6474, ext. 6, and ask for Lin Montgomery, the department’s public health coordinator-educator.
As of July 14, state health officials were reporting the confirmed number of HIV cases in the southeastern Indiana outbreak is 174.
As part of the long-term planning process released by the state June 17, officials were made aware of 491 people as part of the investigation into the outbreak. At that time, there were 169 positive tests for HIV and 257 negative tests. Investigators were unable to locate 46 others, and 21 refused testing.
Most of the cases have been reported in Scott County, but cases also have been reported in Clark, Jackson, Perry and Washington cases.
Jackson County averages fewer than five new cases of HIV per year but went above that number this year due to the outbreak, Montgomery said.
She said because county residents used to have to go to Clark County or Bartholomew County for HIV testing, the number of people testing positive for HIV is not reported by the state back to the county of residency.
However, the state is reporting that about 40 people in Jackson County were living with HIV in 2014.
The county health department also recently offered free HIV testing during five recent clinics, and about 25 people showed up for testing.
“I think a lot of our folks went to another county for testing,” Montgomery said. “There’s more anonymity.”
State health officials have said the growing drug problem has sparked a rise in HIV cases, which are linked to injection drug abuse of the prescription opioid painkiller Opana, with some individuals also reporting sexual intercourse as a possible mode of transmission.
Positive Link is a program of Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital Community Health that offers free HIV prevention and testing services and direct services for those infected with HIV.
For information about Positive Link’s services, call 812-353-9150.
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What: Free HIV testing
Where: Walgreens stores in Seymour, 319 E. Tipton St., and North Vernon, 9 N. State St.
When: 1 to 5 p.m. July 30
You also may contact the Jackson County Health Department to schedule a free HIV test (by appointment only) at 812-522-6474, ext. 6, and ask for Lin Montgomery.