CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team landed in Kanawha County last week to bolster the region’s response to the HIV crisis, doctors across West Virginia and beyond watched and worried.
The options are limited, and so is time. While the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and other local health agencies work to increase testing, some providers wonder what real tools are on the table for prevention.
“I don’t know how you respond to an HIV outbreak among people who inject drugs without expanding access to clean syringes” said Dr. Robin Pollini, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. “Cabell County did that. It controlled the outbreak. In Scott County, Indiana, that’s how they quelled it. Every response I’ve seen to outbreaks of this nature relies on expanding syringe services.”
A recently passed state law and a Charleston ordinance severely limit options for those programs…