Researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health have published a study in Clinical Infectious Diseases that outlines the results of their agent based model of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission in Scott County, Indiana. The county was the site of an HIV outbreak among people who inject drugs in 2015. This was the largest HIV outbreak among people who used drugs outside an urban area in the United States. The study was lead by Mr. William Goedel, a third year PhD student in the epidemiology department and supervised by Dr. Brandon Marshall, an associate professor of epidemiology. The results of the model show that the presence of syringe exchange can have a protective effect for HIV transmission.
An agent based model was used to stimulate HIV transmission in Scott County, Indiana. Three scenarios were tested and the outcome – transmission of HIV – was compared in all three. Outcomes were compared in a scenario where there was no syringe exchange, with a syringe exchange already existing, and finally, where a syringe exchange was introduced after the detection of a HIV case. They found that when a syringe exchange was present, 154 infections were averted, with a decreased in incidence of 90.3 percent. When a syringe exchange was introduced after a case, 107 infections were prevented, with a decrease in incidence of 60.8 percent
The authors suggest that proactive implementation of syringe exchange in non-urban areas is necessary to help prevent further outbreaks.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on June 28