Austin, Indiana One Year Later: AHF Collaboration, Quick Response to HIV Outbreak Continues to Save Lives

In News by AHF

In the aftermath of almost 200 Austin residents contracting HIV since December 2014, AHF’s partnership with Mayor Douglas Campbell and Dr. William Cooke of Foundations Family Medicine now provides medical care to dozens of Southern Indiana patients living with HIV and Hepatitis C. 

AUSTIN, INDIANA (March 31, 2016) When news of an unprecedented HIV outbreak in Austin made national headlines last spring, former Mayor Douglas Campbell reached out to AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) for help in identifying and treating newly infected patients in the rural town of 4,200 residents, most of whom contracted the virus after sharing contaminated needles during intravenous drug use. AHF responded by immediately sending a mobile testing unit (MTU) to Austin to provide free HIV testing, opening the doors of an HIV/AIDS clinic at Foundations Family Medicine on March 31st and subsequently announced on May 7th a partnership with Mayor Campbell, Dr. William Cooke, State Representative Terry Goodin and other state and local officials to address the health crisis. Since April 2015, AHF has tested 600 people in the city of Austin for HIV through its MTU and connected over 100 residents who tested positive for HIV and/or Hepatitis C to medical care and treatment services, of which 64 are virally suppressed, well above the national average of 30%.

From that partnership and commitment to serving residents in Austin and Southern Indiana, AHF hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony in December for the renovated clinic that provides medical care to people living with HIV and Hepatitis C on site at Foundations Family Medicine, located at 25 West Main Street. Today, AHF’s collaboration with Foundation Family Medicine serves dozens of patients regardless of their ability to pay.

“While we’ve worked for years to reduce drug addiction among our residents, no one would have imagined that an HIV outbreak like the one we witnessed would hit small town Indiana. It was an urgent situation that required widespread community outreach, testing and treatment options that were not at our ready disposal at the time,” said Dr. Cooke of Foundations Family Medicine and Austin’s only physician. “AHF has been an amazing community partner throughout this crisis. We’ve been able to identify and provide care and medicine to our residents who are newly infected with HIV and/or Hepatitis C thanks to their quick help and resources. We’re truly grateful for their partnership and commitment to Austin.”

“We knew we had to be there if we could be of service,” said AHF’s Senior Director of Public Health and Indiana native Whitney Engeran-Cordova, who is based in Los Angeles. “In this case, we knew we were working against the clock to identify the people who needed our help and get newly infected residents connected to medical care and treatment. Through our mobile testing unit, we were able to quickly set up testing services in Austin and now, through our partnership with Dr. Cooke, we’re able to provide full-scale medical services to HIV-positive people in Austin and Southern Indiana.”

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