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Scott County HIV Outbreak Subsiding

Barbara Harrington

State health officials say the HIV outbreak in Scott County has leveled off. 170 cases have been diagnosed in Scott County this year, but Deputy State Health Commissioner Jennifer Walthall says new cases are becoming less frequent.

"The number of new cases per week since the middle of April has dramatically decreased from a peak of around 23 in the late part of April in one week to zero cases, one case, two cases," Walthall says.

Walthall says the new cases which are turning up are people within the circle of contacts of those in the original outbreak -- people who tested negative for HIV initially but positive on a retest.

A needle-exchange program will continue, but the state health department will dial back its presence in the town of Austin. A one-stop health services center will operate just one day a week as local officials take control.

State health commissioner Jerome Adams says doctors have successfully suppressed the virus in 11 patients and fewer than five patients have developed full-blown AIDS.

Madison and Fayette Counties have taken initial steps toward requesting their own emergency declarations after witnessing alarming numbers of hepatitis-C cases in those counties, but Adams says no official requests have been received.

If they are, he says the department won‘t rubber-stamp the requests, but will review whether a needle exchange is the most appropriate response.

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