New Release: Community Response Planning for Outbreaks of Hepatitis and HIV Among People Who Inject Drugs

In response to the vulnerability to rapid dissemination of hepatitis and HIV among people who inject drugs (PWID), which is being fueled by our nation’s opioid epidemic, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is pleased to announce the release of Community Response Planning for Outbreaks of Hepatitis and HIV Among People Who Inject Drugs: A Case Study from the LENOWISCO Health District, a Rural Community in Virginia.

In the wake of the 2015 HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana – and in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) vulnerability assessment, which identified 220 counties most vulnerable to an outbreak of hepatitis C and HIV among PWID – the LENOWISCO Health District of the Virginia Department of Health initiated efforts to develop a comprehensive community response plan to address this vulnerability. The District, made up of four localities in rural southwest Virginia – Lee, Norton, Wise, and Scott – has been heavily impacted by the opioid epidemic and two of its counties were identified in the CDC’s assessment. To develop its Community Response Plan, the health department conducted a tabletop exercise and convened town hall meetings to gather community feedback and increase community knowledge of the infectious disease consequences of the opioid epidemic. The plan addresses all phases of an emergency situation (i.e., preparedness, response, and recovery) resulting from a hepatitis or HIV outbreak among PWID and integrates key elements of communicable disease control and prevention with emergency management and community resource mobilization.

The case study outlines the process for developing the Community Response Plan, key components of the plan, lessons learned, and next steps for putting the plan into action. NACCHO encourages health departments across the country to review the LENOWISCO Health District Hepatitis and HIV Community Response Plan, assess your local vulnerability to outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV among PWID, and consider undertaking a similar process to prepare for and respond to the possibility of an outbreak among networks of PWID.

Additionally, on April 10, NACCHO hosted a webinar with the LENOWISCO Health District, titled “Developing a Community Response Plan for an Outbreak of Hepatitis and HIV among Persons Who Inject Drugs: How a Rural Community in Virginia is Preparing for and Addressing this Vulnerability.” View the webinar recording and presentation slides, and learn more about the Case Study and Community Response Plan on NACCHO’s website.

For more information on these resources, please contact Gretchen Weiss.

About Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in infectious disease and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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