The dirty little secret of drug abuse

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Tribune Star on May 2, 2015 by Lisa Trigg

55459a034b8c7.imageJane, a recovering drug addict and lifelong Vigo County resident, is alive and well today. Her decades-long nightmare, which included numerous instances of sharing needles with friends to inject ground-up pills or meth into her body to satisfy her cravings, could have ended differently. Tragically.

As she watches the unfolding drama in southeastern Indiana’s Scott County, where 145 people have been diagnosed with HIV in recent months, Jane recalls the risks to which she subjected herself for years and feels empathy for those involved.

“Why I don’t have hepatitis or HIV, I do not know,” Jane said solemnly. “I have so many friends with hepatitis.”

At the heart of the HIV epidemic, the largest in the state’s history, is the dirty little secret of drug abuse — repeated sharing of contaminated needles. HIV, the virus that if left untreated can cause AIDS, can also be spread by unprotected sex with an infected partner or by a blood transfusion. But state health officials stress that the enormity of the HIV outbreak can be traced directly to the practice of sharing syringes when injecting drugs.