Officials warn of HIV epidemic from injecting drugs

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) – Health officials are warning of a potential HIV epidemic among people who use drugs in Massachusetts.

The MetroWest Daily News reports state data has shown a rise in HIV diagnoses that resulted from injecting drugs.

The Department of Public Health found 6 percent of diagnoses in 2014 were from injecting drugs. That increased to 8 percent in 2015 and 10 percent in 2016. Preliminary data shows 15 percent of this year’s 506 HIV diagnoses are from injecting drugs.

More than 21,000 people are living with HIV or AIDS in the state, compared to fewer than 14,000 in 2002.

While the number of new diagnoses isn’t large, Dr. Alfred DeMaria of the state Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences says it could be a “harbinger of an epidemic.”

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