Responding to HIV Outbreaks Among People Who Inject Drugs

Dear Colleague,

October 5, 2020

Today, CDC released an advisory via the Health Alert Network (HAN) for public health departments, healthcare providers, and others to highlight the possibility of increases of HIV transmission and outbreaks among people who inject drugs (PWID).  The HAN includes guidance on providing clinical and public health services to address HIV among PWID, as well as general considerations for all organizations that provide health services to this population, including syringe services programs, testing for HIV and hepatitis C virus, use of PrEP, and medication for opioid use disorder. Resources for providing services to PWID in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic are also included.

Journal of Infectious Diseases cover

Published simultaneously in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID), the CDC-authored article, Responding to Outbreaks of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Among Persons Who Inject Drugs—United States, 2016–2019: Perspectives on Recent Experience and Lessons Learnedexternal icon, highlights experiences and lessons learned from eight local HIV clusters and outbreak responses that have occurred across the United States since the 2015 Scott County, Indiana, HIV outbreak and investigation. In response to these outbreaks, health departments identified gaps in delivery of critical harm-reduction services, including access to syringe service programs and sterile injection equipment.

This JID article is one of 33 articles published in the CDC-sponsored supplement Infectious Diseases and Injection Drug Use: Public Health Burden and Responseexternal icon. The supplement presents the disease epidemiology, health burden, challenges, and prevention of infections associated with intravenous drug use in the United States.  It represents the work of hundreds of co-authors from throughout the United States and other countries.

It is our hope that by sharing these materials with you, we will reduce the toll of injection drug use-associated infectious diseases and other consequences of substance use. I also encourage you to visit the CDC COVID-19 website on PWID for more information and guidance during these challenging times.


/Jonathan Mermin/

Jonathan H. Mermin, M.D., MPH
Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Page last reviewed: October 5, 2020