Seattle HIV cluster found in drug users, those without homes

The opioid epidemic and a rising population of people experiencing homelessness have helped fuel an HIV outbreak in North Seattle.

Public Health – Seattle & King County says the spike in diagnoses of HIV has affected heterosexual homeless men using drugs intravenously and women who are sex workers.

Since January 2018, officials say 17 people have contracted HIV in the cluster.

Across King County, from 2017 to 2018, HIV diagnoses have risen threefold for heterosexuals who inject drugs.

The HIV strain showing up worries officials because drug users experiencing homelessness are often hard to reach and connect with medical care and prevention programs.

On-the-spot HIV testing has been expanded in the area of North Seattle around Aurora Avenue, as has the distribution of clean needles.