The Alaska Section of Epidemiology (SOE) is responding to an increase in newly diagnosed cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the Fairbanks/Interior region among persons with multiple and/or anonymous sex partners, persons having met sexual partners via apps (Grindr, Snapchat, etc.), and persons engaging in condomless/barrierless sex.
In January 2022, SOE identified a time-space HIV cluster in Fairbanks involving 3 new cases of HIV among military service members within a 4-week period. On January 27, 2022, Bassett Army Community Hospital streamed a Public Health Alert on their Facebook, announcing the cases as well as advocating for persons to seek testing and prevention services.
During October through December 2022, 6 new cases of HIV were diagnosed among persons residing in the Fairbanks/Interior region. Case investigation work and partner notifications are ongoing.
Among the newly diagnosed HIV cases since October 2022, 67% had gonorrhea and/or chlamydia co-infection at diagnosis. Among all newly diagnosed HIV cases in the Fairbanks/Interior region since December 2021 (n=11), 73% had gonorrhea and/or chlamydia co-infection at diagnosis.
Public health partnerships are critical to HIV/STD prevention and intervention. Your efforts and collaboration are vital to prevent HIV/STD transmission and to promote available prevention services.
The Alaska Section of Epidemiology encourages all healthcare providers, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities throughout the Fairbanks/Interior region to do the following:
- Routinely conduct a thorough sexual and risk assessment for all sexually active patients, as per national recommendations.
- Offer all patients comprehensive HIV/STD testing (e.g., HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, and multi-site gonorrhea/chlamydia screening).
- Review patient-centered and individualized risk-reduction techniques during testing and/or treatment encounters.
- Provide education and referral to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), as appropriate.
- Report HIV/STD cases to the Section of Epidemiology within 2 business days.
Additional Screening Recommendations
- All persons aged 15–65 years should be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime.
- Test all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, and all sexually active transgender persons at least annually for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
- More frequent testing (e.g., every 3–6 months) should be considered for persons at increased risk, including persons who inject drugs (PWID) and share injection drug use equipment, persons with multiple sex partners, persons diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, and persons with recent exposure to a sexually transmitted disease.
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea are site-specific infections. Multi-site testing (i.e., extragenital testing) includes screening all parts of the body used for sex, including urogenital, rectal, and pharyngeal sites.