SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – We learned earlier this week about certain communities in the Ozarks being at a higher risk for HIV and hepatitis C, so now we are taking a closer look at why that is.
According to data released by the CDC, Ozark, Cedar, Hickory, and Wright counties are more likely to have some of their residents at a higher risk.
We spoke to Lynne Meyerkord at Aids Project of the Ozarks who says much of the risk is driven by the opioid crisis.
With HIV and hepatitis C mostly transmitted through sexual activity and drug use, she says rural areas can be at higher risk due to lack of preventative resources, but drug use can make things even worse.
“We still see certain infections passed through IV drug use, but it continues to be more methamphetamine, and what we’ve noticed through heroin and the opioids is that people tend to die before they get diagnosed with HIV because it’s a disease that sometimes can take a long time to show up,” Meyerkord said.
The APO stresses getting diagnosed early because today’s treatments can make the disease nearly impossible to transmit.