Project Title

Investigating HIV/HCV Incidence and Barriers to Care in the Region of Northeast Tennessee

Authors' Affiliations

Noah Rutherford, Quillen College of Medicine,East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Grayson Aldridge, Quillen College of Medicine,East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Deirdre Gudger, Director of Prevention and Outreach, Quillen College of Medicine,East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Location

Culp Ballroom

Start Date

4-7-2022 9:00 AM

End Date

4-7-2022 12:00 PM

Poster Number

12

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Other - please list

Prevention and Outreach

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Deirdre Gudger

Classification of First Author

Medical Student

Competition Type

Competitive

Type

Poster Presentation

Project's Category

Public Health, Community Health

Abstract or Artist's Statement

Current research suggests clear correlation between People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and increased prevalence of Human Immunodeficient virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) when compared to the general population. Current research also suggests clear correlation between decreased rates of HIV and HCV in communities with well supported Harm Reduction Programs such as Syringe Service Programs (SSP). The regions of Northeast Tennessee and East Tennessee have been flagged by the CDC as potential regions for future HIV outbreaks due to disproportionately high HCV rates. Prior to 2021, the incidence in of HIV in PWID in East Tennessee Region held consistent with about 15 new diagnoses per year. In 2021 this region reported 86 new diagnoses of HIV among PWID’s as well as an increase from 19.6% to 59.0% of total percentage of HIV incidence in this region associated with PWID’s. This data suggests a potential rapid HIV transmission event could occur in this region and surrounding areas, especially among PWID, area such as that seen in Scott County Indiana in 2015 that first prompted the CDC review of counties at highest risk of a potential outbreak. While there has not yet been a reported increase in incidence in our region of Northeast Tennessee, there is a high likelihood of our region’s population and health system getting impacted by this event. To further investigate what factors may have contributed to this event we called registered Tennessee and neighboring counties SSP’s within 100 miles radius to survey what their program was seeing in terms of HIV/HCV testing, participation accessibly, and weekly availability including changes since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. We then reviewed data collected from participants at the region’s one local SSP, Syringe Trade and Education Program of Tennessee (STEP TN), a service provided by a partnership between Cempa Community Care and ETSU Center of Excellence for HIV/AIDS. We askedreviewed participants’ experiences regarding changes in accessibility they encountered over the last year including those contributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in current drug use, barriers to HCV/HIV testing, and accessibility to supplies and healthcare. The goal of this project was to determine associations with the increased HIV incidence in the surrounding regions in hopes of mitigating the impact it might have on our region of Northeast Tennessee’s health system; we are not investigating causation or implying correlation to SSP programs, particularly as there is evidence supporting increased incidence of transmission of infectious disease following SSP closures. We plan to use the results for of this project to reduce barriers to care and increase accessibility and testing among PWID’s in our area.

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Apr 7th, 9:00 AM Apr 7th, 12:00 PM

Investigating HIV/HCV Incidence and Barriers to Care in the Region of Northeast Tennessee

Culp Ballroom

Current research suggests clear correlation between People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and increased prevalence of Human Immunodeficient virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) when compared to the general population. Current research also suggests clear correlation between decreased rates of HIV and HCV in communities with well supported Harm Reduction Programs such as Syringe Service Programs (SSP). The regions of Northeast Tennessee and East Tennessee have been flagged by the CDC as potential regions for future HIV outbreaks due to disproportionately high HCV rates. Prior to 2021, the incidence in of HIV in PWID in East Tennessee Region held consistent with about 15 new diagnoses per year. In 2021 this region reported 86 new diagnoses of HIV among PWID’s as well as an increase from 19.6% to 59.0% of total percentage of HIV incidence in this region associated with PWID’s. This data suggests a potential rapid HIV transmission event could occur in this region and surrounding areas, especially among PWID, area such as that seen in Scott County Indiana in 2015 that first prompted the CDC review of counties at highest risk of a potential outbreak. While there has not yet been a reported increase in incidence in our region of Northeast Tennessee, there is a high likelihood of our region’s population and health system getting impacted by this event. To further investigate what factors may have contributed to this event we called registered Tennessee and neighboring counties SSP’s within 100 miles radius to survey what their program was seeing in terms of HIV/HCV testing, participation accessibly, and weekly availability including changes since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. We then reviewed data collected from participants at the region’s one local SSP, Syringe Trade and Education Program of Tennessee (STEP TN), a service provided by a partnership between Cempa Community Care and ETSU Center of Excellence for HIV/AIDS. We askedreviewed participants’ experiences regarding changes in accessibility they encountered over the last year including those contributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in current drug use, barriers to HCV/HIV testing, and accessibility to supplies and healthcare. The goal of this project was to determine associations with the increased HIV incidence in the surrounding regions in hopes of mitigating the impact it might have on our region of Northeast Tennessee’s health system; we are not investigating causation or implying correlation to SSP programs, particularly as there is evidence supporting increased incidence of transmission of infectious disease following SSP closures. We plan to use the results for of this project to reduce barriers to care and increase accessibility and testing among PWID’s in our area.