A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides recap of 2019 health threats and responses (Part 2)

From an outbreak of mysterious lung-injury deaths to America’s near loss of measles elimination status, the beginning of the end of the U.S. HIV epidemic to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), CDC worked around the clock – and around the globe – to protect Americans from domestic and global health threats in 2019. Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest health...

CHFS networking event ‘Helping Us Build’ an effort to increase collaboration in harm reduction services

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) held a networking event, “Helping Us Build,” at the Kentucky History Center this week. It was an effort to increase collaboration and efficiency in the delivery of harm reduction services. “We needed to find how could we collaborate further and find additional synergy between all the good work that is being done,” explained Dr. Connie White,...

University of Kentucky, Department for Public Health collaboration aims to eliminate new HIV infections

A collaborative program aimed at preventing new HIV infections in Kentucky, as well as expanding education and care for persons living with HIV, is being launched in Northern Kentucky and throughout the Commonwealth. In 2018, there were 352 new HIV cases diagnosed in Kentucky with 46 of the cases in the Northern Kentucky Area Development District (ADD), where the rate of infection has doubled since...

Rural Blog: Appalachia at high risk of HIV, hep C, but many factors hamper testing, monitoring, treatment

Bloodborne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C are an increasing threat to public health in Appalachia, but the stigma associated with such diseases may be hindering monitoring, testing and treatment, ultimately increasing the risk of outbreaks. A big part of the risk comes from sharing needles while shooting opioid drugs such as heroin. In 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that...

Attorney General Andy Beshear sues opioid distributor McKesson Corp. for ‘flooding Kentucky’

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed suit against a national opioid distributor alleging they are violating state law and “flooding Kentucky with massive amounts of opioids.” The suit, filed at Franklin Circuit Court on Monday, accuses San Francisco-based McKesson Corporation of “unfair, misleading and deceptive business practices, for excessively distributing...

Rise in HIV among N.Ky. drug users sparks outbreak fears; officials renew calls for syringe exchanges

Health officials in Northern Kentucky have renewed their cry for syringe exchanges following a huge surge in cases of the human immunodeficiency virus among intravenous drug users in Kenton and Campbell counties. “HIV cases were up nearly 50 percent to 37 in 2017; the HIV cases among drug users rose 260 percent to 18,” reports Terry DeMio, who covers drug abuse for the Cincinnati Enquirer. 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...

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...

Needle exchange programs becoming more wide-spread as HIV, hepatitis outbreaks slow

From Kentucky Health News Needle exchanges may be difficult for some people to accept, but they are better than outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV or accidental injury from discarded needles, officials in Kentucky counties that have established the exchanges told Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Programs allowing intravenous drug users to exchange dirty syringes for clean ones are spreading...

Growing abuse of prescription painkillers also causes state to see increase in hepatitis, HIV

From Kentucky Health News The growing use of heroin and the abuse of prescription painkillers in Kentucky also mean that the state “is being ravaged by the diseases that follow in their wake: hepatitis and HIV. These dangers also reach far beyond addicts and their families, threatening a wide swath of the population,” Laura Ungar reports for The Courier-Journal. Kentucky has one-fourth...

Rural Blog: Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia most vulnerable to HIV, hepatitis C outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 220 counties -— most of them rural -— that are most vulnerable to an HIV or hepatitis C outbreak similar to last year’s epidemic in Austin, Ind., Arian Campos-Flores and Betsy McKay report for The Wall Street Journal. Of the 220 counties, 56 percent are in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia “in the Appalachian region...

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,...

Needle-exchange program will ‘do good things for Lexington,’ Leach says; launches Sept. 4

  The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s needle-exchange program will be held 1:30-4 p.m. Fridays at 650 Newtown Pike starting tomorrow, Sept. 4. The free, anonymous and confidential program is designed to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis in Lexington. Used needles must be brought in to receive clean needles.   The Bluegrass Region, which covers 17 counties including Fayette...

Biggest health success of 2013 may be ‘bad things that did not happen,’ CDC director says

As 2013 comes to a close, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looks back at the major health concerns of 2013 and previews the health threats that loom for 2014.     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the U.S. government’s health protection agency – considered the most important achievements in 2013 to be the outbreaks that did not happen, the diseases...

Everyday Heroes: When son acquires HIV, mother rushes in to help him and others

This story is taken from Steve Flairty’s 2008 book, Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes. Since 2011, Betty Rushford has put her missionary work on sabbatical leave because of the economy, but continues to do speaking engagements and teaches church congregations how to support those with HIV/AIDS issues.   By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist   Betty Rushford was taught long ago that her...

HIV/AIDS coalition brings Fayette County agencies, community together to fight disease

  In an effort to fill gaps in care and minimize effects of funding cuts, several local agencies recently joined forces to create a coalition to focus on HIV and AIDS issues in Fayette County.   The HIV Community Coalition met for the second time ever Wednesday and includes the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, the Hope Center, AIDS Volunteers Inc., Volunteers of America, the state...