According to West Virginia health officials, a cluster of HIV cases in Cabell County has shifted how the disease is being transmitted.
This is the only known cluster of HIV in West Virginia. There are 49 confirmed cases, according to West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
It has been determined that all of these cases were contracted by sharing of contaminated syringes for intravenous drug use.
The high number of HIV diagnoses is not typical for West Virginia. In 2017 there were only 4.3 cases per 100,000 residents, which was one of the lowest rates in the nation.
In areas where opioid addiction runs rampantly, an HIV outbreak runs serious risk. It has been estimated that 1,800 people are active IV drug users in Cabell County.
“We expect the case count to increase just because we know there’s people out there that have not yet been tested,” said Shannon McBee,, senior epidemiologist at DHHR, said in an interview at the state office in Charleston.