Officials share initiatives to fight HIV outbreak

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia officials are moving forward with initiatives in response to an ongoing HIV outbreak in Kanawha County.

The new initiatives shared Tuesday at a Kanawha County HIV Task Force meeting include training sessions for stakeholders and doctors and hiring more disease intervention specialists, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

The initiatives are in response to an August report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Kanawha County’s HIV crisis. The findings recommended that people who inject drugs in West Virginia’s largest county to have expanded access to sterile syringes, testing and treatment. The recommendations came in response to one of the nation’s highest spikes of HIV cases.

An increase in sterile syringe access for people who inject drugs wasn’t among items discussed on Tuesday.

“The state is currently trying to prioritize our efforts in response to the CDC recommendations and is fully supportive in working with community partners and local health departments to support current programs that would be in alignment with our current law,” state epidemiologist Shannon McBee said.

State lawmakers added new requirements this spring for syringe service programs leading many organizations to stop offering them.

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