The small town at the center of Indiana’s HIV outbreak is getting a new clinic to help with treatment and testing.
It’s part of a partnership between the Town of Austin and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
The free clinic will be housed at Foundations Family Medicine, the only doctor’s office in Austin. It will expand upon the services IU Health is currently offering in the community once a week, such as free HIV testing.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation also plans to build a pharmacy at the clinic to help with long-term medical needs.
The foundation’s Director of Public Policy Garith Fulham says combating the HIV outbreak is a challenge because the disease is being spread primarily through intravenous drug use.
“This is a new phenomenon the HIV/AIDS community has to catch up to,” he says. “And if you look at our history of how we do HIV and AIDS care, it’s been based in cities and urban environments and not rural areas. I think this is a great lesson not only for Indiana but the country.”
A total of 150 people have tested positive for HIV in southeastern Indiana since December. The state health department says at least one of those cases has progressed to AIDS.
A temporary needle exchange program operating in the county has distributed more than 10,400 clean syringes in an effort to mitigate the outbreak.
The county has already set to work on making the temporary program a year-long exchange under legislation signed earlier this week.