HIV Outbreak Control With Effective Access to Care and Harm Reduction in North Carolina, 2017-2018

Am J Public Health. 2020 Mar;110(3):394-400. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305490. Epub 2020 Jan 16.


Objectives. To assess and control a potential outbreak of HIV among people who inject drugs in Western North Carolina.Methods. Disease intervention specialists offered testing for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, harm reduction materials, and linkage to care to 7 linked people recently diagnosed with HIV who also injected drugs. Contacts were offered the same services and HIV testing. HIV genotype analysis was used to characterize HIV spread. We assessed testing and care outcomes by using state surveillance information.Results. Disease intervention specialists contacted 6 of 7 linked group members and received information on 177 contacts; among 96 prioritized contacts, 42 of 96 (44%) were exposed to or diagnosed with hepatitis C, 4 of 96 (4%) had hepatitis B, and 14 of 96 (15%) had HIV (2 newly diagnosed during the investigation). HIV genotype analysis suggested recent transmission to linked group members and 1 contact. Eleven of 14 with HIV were virally suppressed following the outbreak response.Conclusions. North Carolina identified and rapidly responded to an HIV outbreak among people reporting injecting drugs. Effective HIV care, the availability of syringe exchange services, and the rapid response likely contributed to controlling this outbreak.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contact Tracing / methods
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • HIV / classification
  • HIV / genetics
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Harm Reduction
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needle-Exchange Programs
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous*