CDC inquiry sought on HIV outbreak in West Virginia’s largest county

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday submitted a congressional inquiry with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention concerning an HIV outbreak in West Virginia’s largest county.

The West Virginia Democrat requested for the inquiry on behalf of the Kanawha County Fee two months after a CDC official warned that the county’s outbreak was ” essentially the most regarding in america.”

Fee President Kent Carper stated in a press release that the outbreak “is a vital public well being subject and is deserving of our full understanding.”


In a letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, Manchin requested that the CDC assessment the fee’s issues and reply by Friday.

Later Monday, Manchin launched a letter from the CDC saying it was keen to satisfy with public well being officers. It stated Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s Nationwide Middle for HIV-AIDS, could be included within the assembly.

In early February, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the CDC’s chief of HIV prevention, gave a presentation at a gathering of a Kanawha County HIV activity drive.

“It’s attainable the present case rely represents the tip of the iceberg,” Daskalakis stated. “There are seemingly many extra undiagnosed instances in the neighborhood. We’re involved that transmission is ongoing and that the variety of individuals with HIV will proceed to extend except pressing motion is taken.”

March 9, 2021: On this file picture, Options Oriented Habit Response organizer Brooke Parker shows an HIV testing equipment in Charleston, W.Va. 
(AP Photograph/John Raby)

The fee’s letter to Manchin requested whether or not the CDC has accomplished an official investigation into the county’s HIV surge. The letter stated the fee is anxious that the statements referring to the outbreak as essentially the most regarding within the nation “are being made with out factual and empirical proof.”

As lately as 2014, solely 12.5% of HIV instances in West Virginia had been the results of intravenous drug use. By 2019, 64.2% had been, in keeping with state well being division information. The rise was due primarily to clusters in Kanawha and Cabell counties.


Kanawha County, which incorporates Charleston and has 178,000 residents, had two intravenous drug-related HIV instances in 2018. The quantity grew to fifteen in 2019 and at the very least 35 final 12 months, stated Shannon McBee, a state epidemiologist.

By comparability, New York Metropolis, with a inhabitants of greater than 8 million, recorded 36 HIV instances tied to intravenous drug use in 2019, in keeping with the CDC. Counties in different states with populations much like Kanawha had a mean of lower than one HIV prognosis amongst individuals who inject medicine, Daskalakis stated.

The surge, clustered primarily across the capital of Charleston and town of Huntington, is being attributed at the very least partly to the cancellation in 2018 of a needle trade program that supplied clear syringes to injection drug customers not capable of stop the behavior altogether.

Needle trade applications are included within the CDC’s suggestions for controlling illness outbreaks amongst intravenous drug customers. Such applications exist in dozens of states, however they aren’t with out their critics, together with in West Virginia, who say they don’t do sufficient to stop or cease drug abuse.

With lower than every week left within the common session, the state Legislature is contemplating a invoice to manage needle trade suppliers.


The nonprofit group Options Oriented Habit Response gives addicts with clear needles in Charleston and group shares details about HIV testing with residents, together with the homeless. SOAR co-founder Sarah Stone has stated the laws might shut down her group’s needle trade program.

Citing the pending state invoice, the Charleston Metropolis Council on Monday night time postponed voting on a proposed needle trade ordinance till April 19.

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