Secretary of State’s Medical Cannabis Task Force discusses concepts of 2018 Legislative proposal

Members of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Rep. John Sims’ medical cannabis task force on Thursday discussed the concepts of a legislative proposal for the 2018 legislative session. The legislation is anticipated to be bipartisan. “In the weeks since we announced this effort on medical cannabis, I’ve heard the stories of Kentuckians in every part of the state – countless...

Secretary of State meets with advocates to discuss ‘patient-centered’ medical marijuana legislation

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on Tuesday initiated discussions about Kentucky medical marijuana legislation with a panel of experts and advocates in Frankfort. Grimes announced the effort last week. “I came to Frankfort to help people, and there are thousands of Kentuckians who need and are begging for medical marijuana to help ease their pain,” said Grimes. “Today’s...

Secretary of State convening task force to propose legislative action to legalize medical marijuana

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is convening a task force of Kentuckians to focus on a legislative proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky, Grimes announced Wednesday. The group will also study and propose potential implementation and regulation processes. “Too many Kentuckians are suffering from debilitating physical and mental illnesses. Most have lived with the effects...

Syringe exchanges coupled with therapy, treatment could virtually eliminate hepatitis C, conference told

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky leads the nation in new infections of hepatitis C, a liver disease now driven mainly by intravenous drug use. It could be virtually eliminated, but that would require a committed strategy to increase syringe exchanges, medication-assisted therapies, and cutting treatment restrictions such as a ban on treating active intravenous drug users. That was the...

State has highest infection rate of Hepatitis C liver disease in nation; testing is advised

Kentucky is no stranger to the hepatitis C virus. More than 38,000 Kentuckians are currently infected with hepatitis C, according to estimates from the Kentucky Department for Public Health. The contagious liver disease can cause liver cancer or cirrhosis, and is spread by contact with an infected person’s blood. It is often contracted by sharing needles or other equipment to inject illegal drugs,...

Kentucky a national leader in hepatitis C, yet many at-risk counties shun syringe exchanges

“Growing intravenous drug use by people sharing syringes to inject heroin and other substances” has helped make Kentucky a national hotbed for cases of hepatitis C, “which ultimately could mean a staggering cost to taxpayers to treat people with the disease,” Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Giving addicts clean needles can help stem the spread of the...

Rural Blog: Small counties overcome opposition to start successful syringe exchange programs

Small, rural counties are leading the way in establishing syringe exchanges to prevent outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C among intravenous drug users in Kentucky, according to a top state drug official. Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, spoke with Mary Meehan of Ohio Valley ReSource, a regional journalism collaborative of public broadcasters in Kentucky, Ohio...

Kentucky tops nation in rate of hepatitis C infections; price of new drugs out of reach for most

Kentucky’s rate of hepatitis C infections is seven times the national average, but expensive new drugs to treat the disease remain largely out of reach for residents of the state, Andrew Joseph reports for Stat, a health publication of The Boston Globe. “It’s very hard to see the patient and just tell them, ‘I can’t treat you’,” Dr. Fares Khater, an infectious-disease doctor in Whitesburg,...

Woodford exploring syringe exchange; county attorney says problem ‘only going to get worse’

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The Woodford County Board of Health is educating itself about syringe-exchange programs, with plans to begin the process of creating a plan for one in the county. “We do have a horrible, insidious heroin problem,” County Attorney Alan George said at the board’s August meeting. “We are no different than any other county, but we are no worse....

Kentucky has 54 high-risk counties for spread of hepatitis C; only six have needle exchange programs

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Why, if 54 of Kentucky’s 120 counties are among the nation’s most vulnerable to outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C among intravenous drug users, do only a few of them allow users to exchange used syringes for clean one to avoid spreading the diseases? That question was asked, implicitly, by a national expert who spoke at the 2016 Viral Hepatitis Conference...

Conference addresses growing concern of viral hepatitis, HIV, addiction

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) hosted the Viral Hepatitis Conference on Tuesday to bring together community-based organizations, local, state and federal agencies to educate, share resources and information surrounding this growing health concern. Hepatitis, infection of the liver, is typically caused by viruses such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. It is a significant health...

Hepatitis C cases among Kentucky women of childbearing age more than tripled from 2011 to 2014

Hepatitis C among Kentucky women of childbearing age more than tripled from 2011 to 2014, while the national rate among that group was rising only moderately, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said July 22 in a report that “offers further evidence of growing problems in the state from intravenous drug use,” Bill Estep writes for the Lexington Herald-Leader. In 2011,...

Third annual hepatitis conference scheduled July 26 in Lexington; Hepatitis C Town Hall July 28 in Hazard

Kentucky, which leads the nation in hepatitis C infections, will have its third annual hepatitis conference July 26 in Lexington, followed by a Hepatitis C Town Hall Meeting in Hazard July 28, World Hepatitis Day. The first meeting, “Hepatitis: Breaking the Silence,” is hosted by the Kentucky Rural Health Association, the state Department for Public Health’s Adult Viral Hepatitis...

Study says intravenous drug users in almost half of state’s counties at high risk of getting hepatitis C, HIV

A preliminary report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 220 counties in the United States as being most vulnerable to outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C among those who inject drugs in those communities, and 54 of those counties are in Kentucky. Most are in Appalachia, but the list includes the non-Appalachian counties of Hickman, Breckinridge, Grayson, Allen, Taylor,...