Health experts, providers worry about surge of HIV infections in Boston during pandemic

Health experts, providers worry about surge of HIV infections in Boston during pandemic

BOSTON — While the eyes of the nation remain on the coronavirus pandemic, there are concerns about another threat to public health that’s been steadily growing.

Health experts and harm reduction providers are worried about a surge in HIV infections that may be spreading.

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Some of the contributing factors include lack of access to resources during the pandemic and interruption of regular testing for sexually transmitted infections.

Increased needle sharing and unprotected sex during lockdowns are also adding to the potential risk out there in the community.

“The concern is that there is likely some community transmission going on that we aren’t able to capture as quickly,” said Richard Baker, Program Director for Victory Programs Mobile Prevention Team.

Baker said some of the concern is tied to a cluster of HIV cases that were identified in Boston early last year before the pandemic.

“We were already seeing localized outbreaks of HIV associated with injection drug use in the Boston area. That cluster has not gone away since the pandemic started,” explained Baker.

Outreach teams have been ramping up efforts to reach those at risk since the summer.

They’ve also been trying to make sure that those who are HIV positive are regularly receiving their medication that reduces or eliminates the potential of the virus being spread to others.

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