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Public voices questions, concerns at HIV forum in W.Va.

By BISHOP NASH, Herald Dispatch of Huntington

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — With Cabell County’s ongoing HIV cluster at 76 confirmed cases – the virus’s single worst event in West Virginia’s history – concern about the disease’s slow but steady rise has likewise deepened.

There was no shortage of questions and comments from the public at Tuesday night’s HIV informational forum hosted by the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. Nearly every seat in the roughly 100-person conference room was filled, and the two-hour limit was filled with wall-to-wall discussion – both by the panel of experts and the community at large.

Fielding questions and providing their insights were Dr. Michael Kilkenny, physician director of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department; Dr. Kara Willenburg, chief of infectious diseases at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine; Amanda Coleman, executive director for the Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless; and Melissa Pemberton, a technology specialist for Prosource. After 10-minute overviews of the nuances of the HIV cluster – a byproduct of widespread intravenous drug use – from their unique perspectives, there was no lack of questions to answer from the public. …

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