More than 50 percent of the counties listed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as high-risk for HIV and hepatitis C are in three Southern states. The list of counties was compiled in order to determine which parts of the U.S. are most prone to drug-related cases of both illnesses.
The CDC’s researchers came up with the list of 220 counties, considering variables such as overdose deaths, prescription painkillers sold at pharmacies, and unemployment rates – all risk factors connected with use of injected drugs, and HIV and hepatitis C cases as a result of this. All in all, the 220 counties were located in a total of 26 states, with majority of them in rural counties and 56 percent located in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. These states are also among those in the center of the opioid abuse crisis, which continues to rage on in America.
“Our main goal was to prevent this from happening again, and this is one way we think we can help jurisdictions,” read a succinct statement from the CDC’s John Brooks, senior medical advisor for the agency’s Division of HIV/AIDS prevention.