The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the analysis in June of the 3,100 counties across the United States at risk of a potentially deadly immunodeficiency disease (HIV) outbreak. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This virus severely damages the immune system and causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, a condition that defeats the body’s ability to protect itself against disease. An HIV outbreak linked to heroin addiction and other injected drugs could be a double edged sword for us. The top five counties listed in their findings were Cambell, Gallatin, and Grant County in Northern Kentucky, Brown County in Ohio, and Dearborn County in Indiana. “This study identified areas of the country especially vulnerable to rapid spread of HIV infection and new or continuing high rates of hepatitis C infection among persons who inject drugs,” said Michelle Van Handel, a CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the report. The CDC studied Scott County, its outbreak and known factors that influence HIV to find out what other counties are susceptible to outbreaks. It was unusual that Scott County is rural, since most HIV outbreaks have been in urban areas. That county experienced a quick and vicious HIV outbreak in 2014 and 2015. More than 180 IV drug users were infected. About 90 percent of them also tested positive for hepatitis C. Drug abuse and heroin addiction have been linked with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic. Most people know that intravenous drug use and needle-sharing can transmit HIV, less commonly known is the role that drug abuse in plays. A person under the influence of certain drugs is more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as having unsafe sex with an infected partner. No vaccine yet exists to protect a person from getting HIV, and there is no cure. However, HIV can be prevented and its transmission curtailed.
The analysis is one of the CDC’s efforts to help states prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among IV drug users. The CDC believes some of our nation’s greatest success in HIV prevention is among people who inject drugs. Many health leaders are advocating for syringe exchanges. Where those who use needles can exchange dirty needles or pick up clean needles at these syringe exchanges. While the CDC did not examine the harm-reduction strategy of needle exchange, they believe that exchanges and their other services can help reduce the spread of infectious diseases including HIV.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a heroin addiction or drug addiction, contact NOVA RECOVERY CENTER today for help. Our team of licensed counselors and recovery specialists work hands on with our clients, giving them the tools for a successful life in recovery.