Officials warn HIV cases may be on the rise

PERRY COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) Health officials say heroin abusers have a higher risk of contracting serious infections, including HIV.

They say this disease may be on the rise in Kentucky.

"People who live in the culture tend to generally share their equipment," says Dr. Mitchell Wickett, "It only takes one individual to start spreading HIV among other users."

"When we make arrests there are needles that are present, they're usually not the first time the needles are used," said Hazard PD James East, "A lot of the needles have been used time and time again."

The sharing of needles is a major factor in spreading illnesses.

Some health officials in Perry County say they have treated HIV cases but not many have been linked to drug usage.

This may change, however, as law enforcement officers say they have noticed an increase in the popularity of heroin.

Police say within the last six to eight months they have caught more heroin users than ever before.

Officials say the drug is coming from the northern part of the country, and into Eastern Kentucky.

"It is as addictive if not more addictive than methamphetamine," said East, "Once you start using that, that's what you crave."

Officials say they hope drug abusers weigh the consequences before heroin becomes a bigger problem in Eastern Kentucky.

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