“This may indicate a new pattern of transmission…”
Health officials investigate “huge spike” in HIV, warn of potential spread in non-gays
| Daily Mail and AP – Health officials say they are concerned about a number of new HIV infections in North Seattle.
Since February, eight such cases have been identified during routine testing among people described as being recently homeless, heterosexuals and drug users, reported The Seattle Times.
Medical professionals with Public Health – Seattle & King County worry this could indicate a new pattern of transmission for a virus that has been dwindling in the number of cases.
Dr. Matthew Golden with the health department’s HIV/STD program says the cluster is unusual and worrying and says the numbers suggest an increase in HIV among heterosexuals who inject drugs.
In the past decade, an average of 10 heterosexual people who use injection drugs are diagnosed with HIV in the county each year.
This year, so far, 19 people with the same characteristics have been diagnosed – a huge spike from the seven diagnosed last year.
Health officials are increasing outreach and testing, providing case management and continuing to provide needle exchanges.
‘I would see this cluster as being the canary in the coal mine but not cause for panic,’ Dr. Peter Shalit, a primary care physician in private practice told The Times.
‘It reminds us that the epidemic is not over and it’s going to pop up in places that we’re not paying attention to with our prevention efforts.’
The number of heterosexuals with the virus suggests it may be spreading to new populations.
Worldwide, more than 35 million people are infected with HIV, the virus that leads to the potentially deadly disease AIDS.
Once a person contracts HIV, the virus sets about attacking and destroying immune cells that normally protect the body from infection. Read the full story at Daily Mail.
MORE OF TODAY’S TOP HEALTH NEWS: