MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (FOX19) - Cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Butler County since Jan. 1 are up 700 percent compared to the same time last year, Middletown city officials say.
Last year, the county had 12 cases total. It’s already seen eight cases in 2021.
“While this represents just eight new cases, the percent increase is alarming and something we need to understand so we can implement prevention tactics,” Middletown Health Commissioner Jackie Phillips Carter said in a city news release.
The release attributes the dramatic rise to cases “among people who inject drugs,” but health officials say some cases have resulted from sexual intercourse.
“IV use and unprotected sex go hand in hand,” Carter told FOX19 NOW on Thursday.
She says the health department will begin testing for HIV to narrow down exactly where the cases are.
“We will be doing testing at some homeless shelters,” she said. “We’ll do testing at pantries. We can usually do testing anywhere that people allow us to come in and that allow people to get tested. So we’ll start increasing that.”
Butler County offers two sites for its bloodborne infectious disease prevention program in Fairfield (behind Mercy Fairfield Hospital) and Middletown (1300 Reynolds Ave.)
“As the grantee for HIV remediation in Southwest Ohio, we are working closely with Butler County and the cities of Hamilton and Middletown to monitor the situation and provide support for reducing cases,” Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said in the release.
“We are certainly open to expanding the Exchange Project to additional locations in the region.”
Included in the Exchange Project program is education about overdose prevention, communicable disease and injection safety; testing for diseases and referral to treatment; hepatitis vaccination; safe disposal of injection equipment; access to sterile injection equipment to prevent the spread of disease; access to the overdose-reversing drug, naloxone; and distribution of personal care items, including condoms.
“If you are using injection drugs, it is important to make sure you have access to clean equipment to prevent the spread of not only HIV, but also hepatitis and other bloodborne infections,” Phillips Carter said.
“It’s also important to practice safe sex. If you need condoms, any of the local health departments or the Exchange Project can provide them for you. Please take advantage of the Exchange Project services to keep yourself and others healthy.”
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