KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – Normally, drive-thru COVID testing events consist of free COVID-19 swabs and flu shots. But on Wednesday, free HIV testing will also be offered.
This comes because the state requested more testing after seeing a spike of cases directly in that demographic.
“It depends on the area where we are. So, that’s why the K-Mart area in Kanawha City is a good place for walk-ups because it has been reported by the state that it’s a high traffic area,” said Dr. Sherri Young, Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
Many cases are coming from those who are homeless or have social instability – which makes treatment options difficult.
“Only about 1/3 of these people are actually on meds and undetectable, therefore not spreading it to other people,” explained Christine Teague, director of CAMC’s Ryan White program.
HIV cases are actually down from 2019 to 2020, but cases that are attributed to IV drug use has nearly doubled. On top of that, the county has had 14 confirmed HIV cases just since August.
Health leaders say this could correlate with the pandemic.
“People weren’t accessing services as much. Certainly from a substance use standpoint, the ability to access recovery services like AA and NA were challenging,” Teague said.
So, at the testing event in Kanawha City, if you get an HIV test you will also get free Naloxone training while waiting for your test results to come back.
“While you have someone that might be at risk of HIV, you have the opportunity right there in front of you to do the counseling. What are your risk factors? How can we get you into treatment? How can we get you help?” Young said.