By JENI O'MALLEY
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing an alert to warn that a hepatitis C epidemic and a rise in intravenous drug use nationwide could spark new HIV outbreaks similar to one in a southern Indiana county with 142 new cases this year.
The CDC says injectable drug users with HIV have a high chance of also being infected with hepatitis C. The agency recorded a 150 percent increase in acute hepatitis C cases from 2010 to 2013.
The CDC's Dr. Jonathan Mermin said Friday that states must scrutinize data on HIV, hepatitis C and drug abuse to identify areas at risk of an infectious disease outbreak.
Health officials say four of five people infected in the Indiana HIV outbreak have acknowledged using injectable drugs, mostly the painkiller Opana.