Hamilton County, OH……Hamilton County Public Health and the Northern Kentucky Health Department have enlisted additional help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide onsite assistance with the continuing investigation of a cluster of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases identified in the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area.
At the request of the Ohio Department of Health and Kentucky Department for Public Health, the CDC dispatched an epidemiological assistance team, called Epi-Aid. This team comprised of Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers and other CDC subject matter experts will provide rapid, short-term, onsite, technical assistance over the new few weeks for this important public health issue. The team arrived on Monday, October 22 and will work in both Hamilton County and Northern Kentucky. This joint request for Epi-Aid support is the first of its kind involving Ohio and Kentucky.
The Epi-Aid team has been asked to complete the following objectives:
- Analyze epidemiologic data of persons who inject drugs with newly-diagnosed HIV infection in the five-county region of Hamilton (OH), Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton (KY).
- Conduct interviews and rapid survey assessments with key informants to identify factors that increase risk of HIV infection among people who inject drugs.
- Conduct case reviews to assess testing behaviors, case follow-up, and contact tracing.
The main goal of these objectives is to better understand the progress and effectiveness of the ongoing investigation and response and to identify additional prevention and control measures for reaching the at risk population.
In Hamilton County, of 346 newly-diagnosed cases of HIV in 2017-18, 89 (26 percent) identified as injection drug users. In Northern Kentucky for the same period, 45 of 81 (56 percent) cases identified as using injection drugs.
“Last year, for the first time in Kentucky’s history, the most common risk factor for the transmission of HIV in a community was intravenous drug use,” said Dr. Jeffrey
Howard, M.D., commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “This marks a concerning transition, which we have been monitoring closely. One of the department’s top priorities is preventing the spread of diseases associated with intravenous drug use, which includes HIV. As such, we are happy to have representatives from the CDC to help assist us and our counterparts in Ohio as we continue our interstate partnership to prevent further spread of HIV.”
“This is an example of strong local, state and federal collaboration to investigate an important public health issue,” said Lance Himes, director of the Ohio Department of Health. “We look forward to the investigation’s findings and recommendations which will be invaluable to HIV prevention efforts.”
Posted by: Christy Cauley