CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — The Kanawha Charleston Health Department launched a task force aimed at stopping the spread of HIV in the area on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.
“HIV really started to come on the radar when we saw the numbers increasing in Huntington,” said Janet Briscoe, Director of Epidemiology.
People from many backgrounds came to the table to talk strategy at the first task force meeting. According to Dr. Sherri Young Director of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, in 2019 16 people have been diagnosed with HIV in Kanawha County. Of those 6 were IV drug users. Young said the number is more than in previous years.
“When you look at the absolute numbers that is not the alarming piece. When you look at the number of averages from previous years we typically only see about 2 who identify as IV drug users. You go from 2 to 6 although it doesn’t sound like a large change it is enough to say let’s sit at the table and get a hold of this,” Young said.
Topics on the agenda included ways to increase testing and how to help people connect with the care they need.
“In an ideal situation people would come to the health department, we would get them tested and connected to care. Unfortunately, people have bad situations and that is what makes them the most vulnerable to the disease,” Young explained.
The task force will meet again next month. They are planning to bring even more community leaders to the table.