Austin, Ind., a city of about 4,200 people in Scott County, Ind., off Interstate 65, has been the epicenter of an HIV outbreak, said Maureen Hayden, statehouse bureau chief for CNHI Indiana Newspapers. HIV has spread among intravenous drug users and more than 170 cases have now been reported. Hayden, a reporter who continues to cover the outbreak in southeast Indiana, was one of three presenters who discussed Indiana’s situation and substance abuse treatment options during a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “Harm Reduction: Needle-Borne Disease and Substance Abuse.”

Earlier this year, an unexpected outbreak of HIV in southern Indiana triggered a high-profile emergency response while demonstrating the dangerous link between substance abuse and certain infectious diseases. This FREE eCademy webcast explores lessons from Indiana's experience, policy options and the latest research on effective treatment of substance abuse.

The White House heroin response strategy announced today, with a price tag of $13.4 million, will emphasize treatment as well as public safety. According to Reuters, Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, said the new plan will address the heroin and painkiller epidemics as both "a public health and a public safety issue."

CSG’s webcast, “Needle-Borne Disease and Substance Abuse,” Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. EDT, will provide timely context and background on the issues the White House program strives to address. The surge of prescription opioid abuse in southern Indiana precipitated an HIV epidemic in that state earlier this year.

Earlier this year, Indiana experienced an outbreak of HIV in one small rural community that was traced back to needle-sharing among individuals using and abusing prescription drugs. Public health experts warn that other communities could encounter outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C given the rampant abuse of prescription drugs and heroin. 

CSG's FREE eCademy webcast at 2 p.m. on Aug. 18  will explore lessons from Indiana's experience, policy options that states might pursue and the latest research on effective treatment of substance abuse.

CSG Midwest
Last summer, lawmakers in the Illinois House declared a “heroin emergency” in the state. This year, the legislature overwhelmingly approved a comprehensive plan (HB 1) to deal with it. According to The State Journal-Register (Springfield), the state's new fight against drug abuse will cost between $25 million and $58 million.

I learned a few things last week when I was visiting with Indiana Rep. Ed Clere, one of the new co-chairs of CSG’s Health Public Policy Committee.

  • That week, the state announced the 100,000th person enrolled in the Medicaid expansion waiver, called HIP 2.0 in Indiana, after the program opened less than a month before. Indiana had three Medicaid managed care organizations already engaged in the state and the state Medicaid office and the
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This act specifies that any pregnant woman referred for drug abuse or drug dependence treatment at any treatment resource that receives public funding would be a priority user of available treatment. The department of mental health and substance abuse services must ensure that family-oriented drug abuse or drug dependence treatment is available, as appropriations allow. A treatment resource that receives public funds may not refuse to treat a person solely because the person is pregnant as long as appropriate services are offered by the treatment resource.

This act amends Tennessee’s fetal homicide law to allow the prosecution of a pregnant woman for the illegal use of a narcotic drug, if her child is born addicted or harmed by the drugs she took during her pregnancy. The charge of assault is a misdemeanor offense, but if the child is harmed, aggravated assault, with a 15-year maximum prison term, could be charged. That a woman is enrolled in long term drug addiction treatment before the child is born, remains in the program after delivery and successfully completes the program is an affirmative defense under the law. The law is set to expire on July 1, 2016.

In contrast to broad, comprehensive laws authorizing the general use of marijuana for medical purposes, several states have recently enacted laws authorizing the limited use of “Low THC-High CBD” marijuana products to treat specific illnesses or symptoms. The laws commonly (1) use a very specific and limited definition of the authorized marijuana products; (2) limit the types of illnesses and symptoms subject to treatment at the direction of a physician; (3) limit the approved distributors of the marijuana product; (4) create a specific legal defense to criminal prosecution for the use of the sanctioned marijuana products; and (5) require patients or physicians to register with a particular state entity or obtain an identification/registration card prior to obtaining the marijuana product. Some of the laws were created as pilot study programs or clinical trials, while others are general authorizations for the limited use of certain marijuana products to treat specific illnesses and symptoms.

State and territorial attorneys general have made it a priority to combat the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and to protect military service members from predatory lenders. Their efforts include law enforcement operations, state drug monitoring programs and education campaigns.