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Addressing Viral Hepatitis and HIV Outbreaks Among Persons Who Inject Drugs in Allegheny County: A Community Response Plan Proposal

Benford Miller, Miranda Rose (2021) Addressing Viral Hepatitis and HIV Outbreaks Among Persons Who Inject Drugs in Allegheny County: A Community Response Plan Proposal. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Background: In 2015, Scott County, Indiana experienced a significant outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C associated with intravenous drug use. The outbreak prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify other communities in the U.S. at risk for similar outbreaks. Based on the results from the CDC’s report, The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH), created a vulnerability index identifying counties most at risk for an outbreak like that of the 2015 Indiana outbreak. The PADOH identified Allegheny County as a “more vulnerable” county with specific communities at an increased risk of viral hepatitis and HIV outbreaks. Historically, hepatitis A has been excluded from other CRPs surrounding IDU; however, given that outbreaks of hepatitis A are increasing in the U.S., particularly among PWID, this indicates a need for the inclusion of hepatitis A in future prevention planning efforts.

Recommendations: As viral hepatitis A, B, and C and HIV cases are on the rise in Allegheny County, a comprehensive CRP is critical to prevent and prepare for outbreaks of PWID in Allegheny County. The creation of a CRP must consider the sociocultural and legal barriers to health access for PWID such as criminalization of bloodborne infections and IDU, illegalization of harm reduction practices, negative encounters with law enforcement, unstable housing, lack or inadequate insurance coverage, economic instability, homelessness, poor mental health, and stigma and discrimination. Further, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) must operate within its legal authority to effectuate appropriate community prevention, immediate and intermediate response, recovery, and sustained response. It is recommended that the ACHD implement a CRP addressing viral hepatitis A, B, and C and HIV among PWID in Allegheny County.

Public Health Significance: Viral hepatitis A, B, and C and human immunodeficiency (HIV) cases are increasing among persons who inject drugs (PWID) on a national and local level. PWID are a vulnerable, extremely stigmatized population that is often overlooked in public health interventions. The implementation of a community response plan (CRP) in Allegheny County to address viral hepatitis A, B, and C and HIV among PWID is critical for outbreak prevention, preparation, and response.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Benford Miller, Miranda Rosemrb179@pitt.edumrb179
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHaggerty, Catherinehaggertyc@edc.pitt.eduhaggertycUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberBatra Hershey, Tinatbh16@pitt.edutbh16UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberFiddner, JenniferJennifer.Fiddner@AlleghenyCounty.usUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date: 14 December 2021
Date Type: Completion
Number of Pages: 75
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2022 19:08
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 19:08


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