Indiana taps college professor to helm HIV/STD division


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A college professor with a background in public health research was tapped Friday to oversee Indiana’s efforts to combat HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, taking charge of the office as the state faces its worst-ever HIV outbreak.

Michael P. Fisher, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, will take over May 2 as director of the State Department of Health’s HIV/STD Division, the agency said.

Fisher said in a statement that he views the job “as a culmination of my experiences as a public health researcher and leader.”

Part of rural southern Indiana is experiencing an outbreak of nearly 190 HIV cases that are largely tied to needle-sharing among intravenous drug users. Nearly all of those cases were confirmed last year in Scott County, about 30 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky, among people abusing a liquefied form of the prescription painkiller Opana.

At the University of Cincinnati, Fisher has studied issues including HIV/AIDS and substance abuse, and novel forms of health and social services delivery. He’s taught courses on health leadership and health management.

Jerome Adams, the state health commissioner, said in a statement that Fisher’s research makes him “well-versed in the intersections between HIV and risk behaviors.”

Fisher’s has a master of science in health systems administration from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at San Francisco.

He previously worked for the RAND Corp. as a health project associate and served as a health policy analyst at the Altarum Institute, both in Washington, D.C.

Indiana’s HIV/STD Division works to promote programs to combat HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and help provide treatment for those infected. The office includes experts in data collection and analysis, research, disease detection, care coordination and prevention programs.

Fisher will replace interim division director Ann Alley, who is also director of the state agency’s Division of Chronic Disease, Primary Care and Rural Health and will continue in that post.

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