Kanawha HIV Taskforce meets, three new HIV cases added by DHHR

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As officials with the Kanawha County HIV Taskforce met Tuesday, data revealed there have been three new HIV cases reported in the county since the body’s last meeting Dec. 14.

Shannon McBee, State Epidemiologist with state DHHR told the taskforce that 40 of the 52 cases that were diagnosed in 2021 in the county were associated with injection drug use. The three cases diagnosed since last meeting were done so in the 4th quarter of 2021, she added.

Shannon McBee, DHHR

McBee noted to those on the virtual meeting call that several factors play a role in the fluctuation in case numbers including reporting delays. She said when the weather is cold, it can become difficult for agency’s to locate and interview individuals. She noted the data includes those who were homeless at the time of diagnosis.

Since Jan. 1, 2019, 94 newly diagnosed cases of HIV associated with injection drug use have been reported in Kanawha County. McBee reported that the epidemiology of those cases has not changed.

54% of those cases are male, 81% of cases are between 20 and 40 years of age, 50% of cases report being homeless or unstably house in the past 12 months, and 89% are co-infected with hepatitis C.

VIEW: Jan. 11 Kanawha County HIV Taskforce meeting

McBee said the medical status of cases in Kanawha County are moving in a positive direction.

“There was a slight increase in the number of individuals who are engaged in care and the number who were virally suppressed at their last test,” she said.

Next month’s February meeting will mark one year anniversary of Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the head of HIV prevention for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, telling the taskforce that the county’s HIV outbreak is one of the most concerning in the United States.

There were 42 HIV cases recorded in 2020 in the county.