CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha County Commission is seeking answers from the CDC to find out where a reported HIV outbreak is coming from. Commissioners have called on local leaders to see if they can step in to help.
In recent weeks, it’s been reported that Kanawha County has the “most concerning” HIV outbreak in the United States. In response to the reports, the commission has reached out to Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Shelly Moore Capito to open a congressional inquiry with the CDC.
“A little over 50 days ago, an individual who is an employee of the CDC, a well-qualified physician, indicated that Kanawha county is the ‘most concerning’ county in the United States for HIV outbreak,” Kent Carper, President of the Kanawha County Commission said.
Kanawha County Commissioners are trying to validate that statement. They’ve sent a letter to Sen. Shelly Moore Capito and Sen. Joe Manchin asking them to open a congressional inquiry with the CDC.
A letter from Sen. Manchin to the CDC today states, “I am submitting a formal congressional inquiry for your prompt response. Given the pressing public health nature of the issue, I request that your staff review the enclosed concerns and contact the Kanawha County Commission no later than Friday, April 9th.”
“We’ve reached out to our health department. We’ve reached out to DHHR, and we’ve asked them what reports do you have regarding the HIV numbers and this outbreak that has happened in Kanawha county, they haven’t seen these numbers as well which is why we reached out to senator Manchin and senator Capito,” Lance Wheeler, Kanawha County Commissioner said.
Some say HIV outbreaks happen because of the elimination of harm reduction and needle exchange programs, which have been debated topics in Charleston.
“Anytime time the federal government or an agency of the federal government makes a statement that causes it’s people to be frightened or concerned, they need to know the fact,” Carper said.
The Kanawha-Charleston health department, along with community partners, is offering extended HIV testing hours at multiple locations starting tomorrow and they go throughout the rest of this week. Click here for more information.