SCOTT CO., Ind. (WHAS11) -- A small community made national headlines in Southern Indiana when an outbreak of H-I-V and Hepatitis C plagued the area.
One year has passed since the problem first surfaced in Scott County. Rampant drug use with shared needles was the source of most hundreds of cases.
Local and state health officials started a needle exchange program to combat the issue and Governor Mike Pence's office says the outbreak has dramatically slowed with only 16 new cases since July.
Last April there were 92 cases of HIV in Scott County, now that number is 190.
But the Indiana State Department of Health says those are steady numbers.
At Stewart's Pharmacy in Austin, they know those figures all too well. Jeff Stewart, co-owner of Stewart's Pharmacy explains, “They'll say you know me, I've been coming here for a lot of years and I get my blood pressure and this and that and the other from you but I have a problem. Again we do have resources where we can reach out and get them placed in the system with people that do that kind of thing and get them help."
Jeff and his wife, Theresa Stewart said they can definitely tell improvement in their town. As Jeff adds, “All the positive things that are going on and the awareness and the help that's been brought in to the county is making it so that it's a lot better."
State leaders say in this county of less than 24,000, 176 of the 190 cases of HIV also have Hepatitis C.
“We see a lot of people coming in that are getting help and doing well,” Jeff said.
The Stewart's said they're just as much in love with their small town as they were before the epidemic and say growth and progress should be the new national headlines, because Austin and all of Scott County has come a long way.
Here’s Governor Mike Pence’s entire statement sent to our Tabnie Dozier:
“The comprehensive approach implemented in response to the Scott County outbreak has successfully slowed the transmission of disease and has connected people to health insurance, medical care, treatment and other services that they would not have been able to access otherwise. The number of Scott County residents enrolled in our Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP 2.0) has risen from 838 in March 2015 to 1,858 in February of this year. This means more than 1,000 people can now access care that will help them get and stay healthy.”
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