Wednesday, November 30, 2016

HIV among rural white drug users not falling as urban figure is; areas lack syringe exchanges

HIV infections among people who
inject drugs (CDC graphic)
The number of HIV cases connected to intravenous drug use among rural whites dropped 28 percent from 2008 to 2012, but remained stable in 2010-14, says a study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The main reason is a lack of syringe-exchange programs, the report states.

While HIV cases among rural whites have remained stable, they decreased 50 percent among rural and urban blacks and Hispanics from 2008 to 2014. HIV cases declined 28 percent among urban whites from 2008 to 2012, but remained stable in 2012-14.

The study, which used National HIV Surveillance System data from 2008-14 and interviews of people who inject drugs in 22 cities, found that syringe-exchange programs have steadily increased, "but most people who inject drugs still don’t always use sterile needles," Lena Sun reports for The Washington Post. In the study area, only 29 percent of Hispanics, 28 percent of blacks and 22 percent of whites got their needles from a syringe exchange.

CDC Director Tom Frieden told the Post, “The big picture here is that we’ve had a lot of progress reducing HIV infections spread by needles and we’re at risk of stalling or reversing that progress. More people appear to be injecting drugs, more people are sharing needles, and there are more places not covered by syringe service programs.”

In June CDC identified 220 counties—most of them rural—that are most vulnerable to an HIV or hepatitis C outbreak similar to last year's epidemic in Austin, Ind., where about 200 people were diagnosed with HIV. The opioid epidemic has been growing in rural areas, especially in Central Appalachia. (CDC map: Pink areas are vulnerable to HIV and hepatitis C infection. Green areas have needle exchange programs; map needs updating)

No comments: