Gaston County, N.C., Health Officials Increase HIV Education Outreach To Respond to Sudden Infection Increase
Gaston County, N.C., health officials on Tuesday said that they would increase HIV/AIDS education outreach programs to help curb the spread of the disease after learning that six county residents have tested positive for HIV during the last five weeks, the Charlotte Observer reports. In 2002, the county reported an average of two to three new HIV infections per month (Gregory, Charlotte Observer, 8/20). Approximately 640 Gaston County residents have been diagnosed with HIV since February 1986 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/24). The reasons for the recent increase in reported cases is unknown, according to county officials, who said that the cases were found among "men, women, African Americans, whites, heterosexuals and homosexuals," according to the Observer. County Health Director Colleen Bridger said that the new cases could stem from an increase in high-risk behavior. County health officials plan twice-monthly visits to "neighborhoods at risk" for HIV as part of the Health Department's Reach Program and will also visit "at-risk facilities," including substance abuse treatment centers and homeless shelters, according to the Observer (Charlotte Observer, 8/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.