cloudyn.png
Saturday April 10th, 2021 7:34AM

CDC inquiry sought on HIV outbreak in WVa's largest county

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday submitted a congressional inquiry with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding an HIV outbreak in West Virginia's largest county.

The West Virginia Democrat asked for the inquiry on behalf of the Kanawha County Commission two months after a CDC official warned that the county's outbreak was “ the most concerning in the United States.”

Commission President Kent Carper said in a statement that the outbreak "is an important public health issue and is deserving of our full understanding.”

In a letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, Manchin asked that the CDC review the commission's concerns and reply by Friday.

Later Monday, Manchin released a letter from the CDC saying it was eager to meet with public health officials. It said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV-AIDS, would be included in the meeting.

In early February, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the CDC’s chief of HIV prevention, gave a presentation at a meeting of a Kanawha County HIV task force.

“It is possible the current case count represents the tip of the iceberg,” Daskalakis said. “There are likely many more undiagnosed cases in the community. We are concerned that transmission is ongoing and that the number of people with HIV will continue to increase unless urgent action is taken.”

The commission’s letter to Manchin asked whether the CDC has completed an official investigation into the county’s HIV surge. The letter said the commission is concerned that the statements referring to the outbreak as the most concerning in the nation “are being made without factual and empirical evidence.”

As recently as 2014, only 12.5% of HIV cases in West Virginia were the result of intravenous drug use. By 2019, 64.2% were, according to state health department data. The increase was due primarily to clusters in Kanawha and Cabell counties.

Kanawha County, which includes Charleston and has 178,000 residents, had two intravenous drug-related HIV cases in 2018. The number grew to 15 in 2019 and at least 35 last year, said Shannon McBee, a state epidemiologist.

By comparison, New York City, with a population of more than 8 million, recorded 36 HIV cases tied to intravenous drug use in 2019, according to the CDC. Counties in other states with populations similar to Kanawha had an average of less than one HIV diagnosis among people who inject drugs, Daskalakis said.

The surge, clustered primarily around the capital of Charleston and the city of Huntington, is being attributed at least in part to the cancellation in 2018 of a needle exchange program that offered clean syringes to injection drug users not able to quit the habit altogether.

Needle exchange programs are included in the CDC’s recommendations for controlling disease outbreaks among intravenous drug users. Such programs exist in dozens of states, but they are not without their critics, including in West Virginia, who say they don’t do enough to prevent or stop drug abuse.

With less than a week left in the regular session, the state Legislature is considering a bill to regulate needle exchange providers.

The nonprofit organization Solutions Oriented Addiction Response provides addicts with clean needles in Charleston and group shares information about HIV testing with residents, including the homeless. SOAR co-founder Sarah Stone has said the legislation could shut down her group's needle exchange program.

Citing the pending state bill, the Charleston City Council on Monday night postponed voting on a proposed needle exchange ordinance until April 19.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Israel's Netanyahu in court as parties weigh in on his fate
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial has resumed, with a key witness painting a picture of an image-obsessed Israeli leader forcing a prominent news site to flatter his family and smear his opponents
2:25PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Putin signs law allowing him 2 more terms as Russia's leader
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing him to potentially hold power until 2036, a move that formalizes constitutional changes endorsed in last year’s popular vote
2:23PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Putin calls Argentine leader with COVID despite Sputnik shot
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called his Argentine counterpart, who has tested positive for COVID-19 despite receiving the Russian vaccine
2:21PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Corporations gave over $50M to voting restriction backers
Corporations have given more than $50 million in recent years to state lawmakers who have seized on Donald Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 election to push for new restrictions on the right to vote
1:43PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Biden's big infrastructure plan hits McConnell-GOP blockade
Republicans in Congress are making the politically brazen bet that it’s more advantageous to oppose President Joe Biden’s ambitious “Rebuild America” agenda than to lend support
1:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
Latest attack pushes US Capitol Police further toward crisis
The death of another U.S. Capitol Police officer has exacerbated problems for a department months after the worst moment in its history — the storming of the Capitol by violent insurrectionists — and placed new urgency on lawmakers considering proposals to bolster the agency
12:42PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Netanyahu ex-ally nominates himself to be next PM
A former right-wing ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recommended himself as the next prime minister, deepening Israel's political deadlock
5:49AM ( 8 hours ago )
Biden's big infrastructure plan hits McConnell, GOP blockade
Republicans in Congress are making the politically brazen bet that it’s more advantageous to oppose President Joe Biden’s ambitious rebuild America agenda than to lend support
12:07AM ( 14 hours ago )
New to DC, Buttigieg looks to build bridges with Biden plan
Two months into his job, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is forging a fresh path for his Cabinet role and in his life that could bridge gaps with Republicans when it comes to President Joe Biden’s agenda
12:03AM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Vaccine skepticism runs deep among white evangelicals in US
A recent photo posted online of the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest evangelical denomination, getting the COVID-19 vaccine drew more than 1,100 comments
1:46PM ( 43 minutes ago )
The Latest: Cases up, testing down in Spain over Easter week
Spain’s coronavirus contagion rate and hospitalizations are gathering speed, but a top health official says the latest data may not be showing the full picture because of limited testing over the Easter holiday period
1:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
UK to ease lockdown next week, will test vaccine passports
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that businesses from barbers to bookstores will be allowed to reopen next week and that Britain's slow but steady march out of a three-month lockdown remains on track
1:19PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Health
Israel's Netanyahu in court as parties weigh in on his fate
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial has resumed, with a key witness painting a picture of an image-obsessed Israeli leader forcing a prominent news site to flatter his family and smear his opponents
2:25PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Putin signs law allowing him 2 more terms as Russia's leader
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing him to potentially hold power until 2036, a move that formalizes constitutional changes endorsed in last year’s popular vote
2:23PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Putin calls Argentine leader with COVID despite Sputnik shot
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called his Argentine counterpart, who has tested positive for COVID-19 despite receiving the Russian vaccine
2:21PM ( 9 minutes ago )
France investigates secret restaurants for Paris elite
French authorities are investigating accusations that government ministers and others dined in secret restaurants in violation of pandemic restrictions
2:02PM ( 27 minutes ago )
ER doc theorized that lack of oxygen stopped Floyd's heart
The emergency room doctor who pronounced George Floyd dead after trying to resuscitate him has testified that he theorized at the time that Floyd's heart most likely stopped because of insufficient oxygen
2:02PM ( 27 minutes ago )