Increase in Newly Diagnosed HIV with Hepatitis C Co-Infection among Persons Who Inject Drugs

The Tennessee Department of Health, in collaboration with Knox County and East Tennessee Regional Health Departments, is responding to an increase in newly diagnosed HIV with substantial hepatitis C virus (HCV) coinfection among persons who inject drugs (PWID) in your area. Many of these new HIV infections are molecularly similar using whole genome sequencing.

In an effort to find people who may be impacted and connect them with healthcare services, we ask that you do the following:

  1. Test anyone for HIV and HCV who presents for medical care and reports any history of substance use (who are not already known to be HIV or HCV positive).
  2. If a patient tests positive for HIV or HCV, immediately link them to care. Inform newly diagnosed patients that the Knox County or East Tennessee Regional Health Department will be reaching out to them for more information and can help them access low cost or free care/treatment if needed.
  3. If you see a patient who has been previously diagnosed with HIV but is not engaged in regular care, reconnect the patient to HIV care.

Increasing HIV and HCV testing in Tennessee is critical to identifying impacted individuals and getting them promptly into care and treatment. Clinicians should consider frequent screening (e.g., once every 3 or 6 months) for those at increased risk of HIV and HCV, including persons who inject drugs (PWID).

If you have questions, please contact the Knox County Health Department at 865-215-5093 or East Tennessee Regional Health Office at 865-549-5265.