Two new cases of HIV in Kanawha County have been reported thus far in 2020, a number health officials say is standard.
“That’s what we would expect to see in an average year,” Dr. Sherri Young, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said Wednesday at an HIV Task Force meeting.
Young said both these cases were linked to intravenous drug use. Both people affected have been connected to care.
In 2019, there were nine cases involving needles and HIV.
But since patients self-report drug use to doctors or whoever is administering their screening, there’s also a chance that people who reported using drugs contracted HIV through other means.
“We’re happy that we only have the two cases,” Young said, “but we’re going to continue to meet as a group. We’re going to continue to work at the community level, so that we don’t see an unexpected increase and to make sure we get people into treatment.”
The HIV Task Force, in its fourth meeting since its creation, addressed parts of its homeless outreach efforts on Wednesday.
Christine Teague, director of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program at Charleston Area Medical Center, mentioned that people experiencing homelessness are not only more vulnerable to HIV, but often have their belongings stolen in encampments, including vital medicine needed to treat the disease.
“It’s not uncommon that our patients will get their HIV medicine stolen frequently,” Teague said.
She said it creates a near impossible situation for people to get another order.
“You’re talking about a $3,000 prescription, which Medicaid will do one fill,” Teague said.
The task force will meet again in April.