Rural Counties within North East Tennessee Become at Risk for HIV

The Centers for Disease Control has released new findings about the most vulnerable counties in the nation for the spread of drug abuse and HIV.
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“Injection drug use is really high in rural areas.”

According to the C-D-C the spread of HIV is not just spread exclusively through sex. It’s also through drug abuse.

“People were sharing needles a lot. It’s a small rural county, rural town. There’s not a whole lot to do there”, said Community Outreach Specialist for Chattanooga Cares Russell Waldrop.

It was just a couple of years ago when HIV outbreak plagued rural Indiana.

“The town went from having one or two people HIV in one month to having two or 300.”

The CDC said rural counties within North East Tennessee are at risk too.

“Eastern Tennessee, the I-75 corridor headed north is one of the next likely places from this kind of thing to happen. All of the conditions are right.”

Conditions, Waldrop said can have a grave effects on rural towns.

“High unemployment, like of education, and the you know the accessibility of heroine. We’re seeing this effect rural areas because there’s just not a whole lot going on out there.”

However, he said counties should take preventive measures before an outbreak occurs with needle exchange programs.

“Instead of sharing used needles that are infected with HIV or HEP C or anything else. Every time you shoot up you get a free new needle from some kind of organization.”

Despite what may be looked at as a benefit, he said the possibility of it happening is low.

“it’s not a very popular idea for our tax dollars to go to pay for someone to get high. unfortunately though without a needle exchange program HEP c and HIV can spread really rapidly. so getting people to stop using is obviously a long term goal but in the immediate future its stopping the spread of the disease.”


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