A study published in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that 1,857 people injected drugs in the last six months in Cabell County, W.Va., a rural county with a population of 94,958. This estimate is based on an innovative survey technique that public health officials can now use in their own rural communities to address the opioid epidemic.
The study was led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in collaboration with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. Details about the project, including a toolkit for public health officials to use in the field and an interactive demonstration tool of the study’s method, are available online.
For their study, the researchers surveyed the population of people who inject drugs to understand their drug use and needs for essential public health services, including drug treatment and overdose prevention resources. Using these data, the study team was able to quantify the size and characteristics of the population of people who inject drugs.
Dr. Sean Allen, assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School’s department of health, behavior and society, led the research. “This research demonstrates that rural communities can leverage innovative population-estimation methods to better understand population-level needs for services among people who inject drugs,” says Dr. Allen.
The research was funded by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.