A high rate of new hepatitis C virus (HCV) cases presaged the recent explosive HIV outbreak among injection drug users (IDUs) in a rural county in southern Indiana, MedPage Today reports. Researchers presented analyses of the overlapping HIV and HCV outbreaks in Scott County, Indiana at the 2016 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston.

Since the HIV outbreak was first identified in early 2015, 188 Scott County residents have been diagnosed with the virus (as of February 1). The outbreak appeared to have begun in mid-2014. Currently, the HIV prevalence rate in the county, which has a population of 24,000 people, is about 1 percent, while in the town of Austin, population 4,200, 4.6 percent of the residents are now living with the virus.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used a new computer tool kit known as the Global Hepatitis Outbreak and Surveillance Technology (GHOST) to analyze the hep C epidemic in Scott County. They found that hep C had transmitted among the local IDUs for several years prior to the HIV outbreak and that multiple strains of hep C made it into circulation over time.

According to the CDC, communities with similar demographics to Scott County might better prevent such an HIV outbreak by identifying the warning sign of hep C transmitting among the local IDU population.

To read the MedPage Today article, click here.

To read the conference abstract about HIV transmission, click here.

To read the conference abstract about HCV transmission, click here.