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Rise of HIV cases another effect of opioid epidemic in West Virginia

HIV cluster noted in Cabell County

By Bishop Nash, The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — For all of Appalachia’s much-profiled health concerns, HIV/AIDS has historically not been one of them.

In 2017, when West Virginia flashed in national headlines detailing the carnage of the opioid epidemic, the Mountain State still had one of the nation’s lowest rates of HIV diagnoses (4.3 cases per 100,000 residents), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neighboring Kentucky (7.9 per 100,000) and Ohio (8.8 per 100,000) have fared similarly.

Traditionally, it’s been a disease contained to the nation’s urban coasts and Deep South, spread mostly through unprotected sex, the bulk being men having sex with men.

But a recent HIV cluster in Cabell County, along with a scattering of others beginning to crop up across the region, reflects a shift in how HIV is being transmitted — potentially devastating for communities already ravaged by the opioid epidemic.

Cabell County’s current cluster — the only one currently known in West Virginia — is now up to 49 confirmed cases, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. All of those were contracted by intravenous drug use through the sharing of contaminated syringes. …

Read more https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/health/rise-of-hiv-cases-another-effect-of-opioid-epidemic-in/article_4e2305c3-d06b-5bd0-b3d9-33f056838e8c.html

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