Health officials in West Virginia say they were able to contain an HIV outbreak in the southern part of the state by quickly identifying those who had just aquired the virus, and getting them into treatment.
What stands out in this report is that Dr. Rahul Gupta, of West Virginia’s Bureau for Public Health, says the outbreak was “mostly spread by sexual contact between males… and [a] few intravenous drug users.” However, he added, “We wanted to make sure that we are aggressively addressing this particular outbreak in order to prevent an IV drug use-related outbreak.”
Gupta said the state stepped up surveillance efforts after observing an HIV outbreak in rural Indiana in 2015, made upalmost entirely by IV drug users. This made it easier to contain the West Virginia outbreak by being able to quickly identify those who had recently aquired HIV and immediately linking them to care. The state also contacted the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for assistance. The state also contacted the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for assistance.
As of last week, Gupta said, 60 new HIV cases were reported statewide. There were 68 cases in 2015; 77 in 2014; 98 in 2013; and 79 in 2012. In 2016 the CDC identified 220 counties, including 28 in West Virginia, at high risk of an HIV outbreak.
Christine Teague, director of the Ryan White Program in West Virginia said, “More people are living in the state with HIV than ever before.”