HIV

Photo by Seth Tackett WTIU/WFIU News

The HIV outbreak in Scott County five years ago prompted Indiana lawmakers to allow the creation of needle exchanges. The programs provide clean needles to IV drug users in an effort to stop the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C.

This year, state legislators have been debating the future of the exchanges.

Public health experts, including the American Medical Association, are calling for an end to so-called HIV criminalization laws, which require people with HIV to disclose their status to sexual partners, IV drug users, and other specific groups. 

Equitas Health

In many Midwest states it’s illegal for someone with HIV to have sex without telling partners about the illness. Some public health experts are pushing to change those laws.

Seth Herald for Side Effects

Months in prison didn’t rid Daryl of his addiction to opioids.

“Before I left the parking lot of the prison, I was shooting up getting high,” he says.

Rising Cost Of PrEP To Prevent HIV Infection Pushes It Out Of Reach For Many

Jul 2, 2018
Creative Commons/Pixabay

Public health officials are expanding efforts to get the HIV prevention pill into the hands of those at risk, in a nationwide effort to curb infections. But the officials are hitting roadblocks — the drug's price tag, which has surged in recent years, and changes in insurance coverage that put a heftier financial burden on patients.

Creative Commons/Pixabay

Researchers have known for decades programs that provide clean syringes to injection drug users lower transmission rates of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

Now, they have personal stories to back the numbers.

(Roger W/Flickr)

A new state program will deliver medically tailored meals to these people. The Ryan’s Meals for Life project is funded by a $1 million grant from the Indiana State Department of Health.

Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana project manager Nick Fennig says the meals program aims to reach more than 2,500 people in Indiana.

"As far as we know, it’s the first statewide pilot of its kind in the country to serve medically-tailored meals to persons living with HIV across the state," says Fennig.

Jake Harper / Side Effects Public Media

Hepatitis C cases in Marion County are up so much, the public health department in Indianapolis declared an epidemic. A syringe exchange program is part of the county’s answer. 

After decades of intense effort, an effective vaccine against HIV is not on the horizon — and, some say, may never be possible. So some AIDS researchers are going passive.

As in passive immunization.

Active immunization is what an effective vaccine does. It stimulates the recipient to make antibodies that protect against a disease. Passive immunization involves the direct injection of antibodies extracted from survivors of a particular infection.

A big part of Washington D.C.'s plan to get its HIV rate down is to get more uninfected people on PrEP, a two-medicine combination pill that's also sold under the brand name Truvada.

Louis Arevalo holds his Truvada pills at his home in Los Angeles, California on July 17, 2015. The drug Truvada, used to halt HIV infection, has been shown to be over 90 percent effective when used correctly.
Heidi de Marco / Kaiser Health News

An analysis released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides further links between syringe services programs and preventing HIV. 


Viral Maps Show Exactly How An HIV Outbreak Spread

Jan 24, 2018

Epidemiologists traditionally have depended on what people say to discover how disease spreads. But in investigating Indiana's recent HIV outbreak, the CDC tracked what the virus says — by looking at its DNA.


Seth Herald / for Side Effects Public Media

On a recent morning in downtown Tippecanoe County Indiana, a standing-room-only crowd showed up for a county commissioners meeting. The issue at hand? Renewing the county’s syringe exchange program.


AJ Mast for Side Effects Public Media

When Ronson Rowley was a teen, he said he used to sneak into a nightclub called the Ten Bar. “It was the only black gay club here in Indianapolis,” he recalled. One night he ran into his uncle.

“He looked me dead in the face,” he recalled. “And [he] said what are you doing here? I said, the same thing you’re doing here.”


Indianapolis, Indiana.
Evan Walsh

On a rainy day in Austin, Indiana, Brittany Combs, the public health nurse for Scott County, drives around in a white SUV. Medical supplies are piled high in the back of the vehicle: syringes and condoms, containers for used needles, over-the-counter medications.


Jake Harper / Side Effects

Indiana’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Curtis Hill, has accused the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of manipulating facts in order to push a “pro-needle-exchange agenda.” He made the accusation in a statement released Tuesday.

The crowd at a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub Sunday morning  in Orlando, on the steps of City Hall.
Eric Garcetti via Flickr

A hidebound stigma? A "double tragedy?" US blood donation rules are coming under scrutiny after Sunday's mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.


Seth Herald/Side Effects

Four days a week, public health nurse Brittany Combs drives her SUV around the small town of Austin, Indiana, handing out clean needles to injection drug users and talking to people about going to rehab.

It’s a task that can be rewarding—when one of her customers finally wants help to get off drugs—and a bit agonizing, because there’s often not a rehab bed ready for them.


This story is part of NPR's podcast Embedded, which digs deep into the stories behind the news.

In the spring of 2015, something was unfolding in Austin, Ind.

HIV rates have been on the decline in the U.S. for years now, but stark disparities remain, with some groups of people at high risk of infection.

Here's the good part: The number of people diagnosed annually has dropped by about 20 percent in the last decade.

The drop was driven by plunges in certain groups of people, including heterosexuals, with a 35 percent decline since 2005; black women, with a 42 percent decline; and people who inject drugs, 63 percent.

Less than a quarter of teens have been tested for HIV, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  


Seth Herald / Side Effects Public Media

Amid fears that providing free, clean needles would promote illegal drug use, Congress passed a law prohibiting the use of federal funds to support needle exchange programs in 1988. But at the end of last year, lawmakers effectively ended that ban.

Worlds Apart: Vast Disparities In Treatment Separate Americans With HIV

Jan 4, 2016

A major insurer said recently it would offer life insurance to HIV-positive people because of their rising life expectancies, prompting cheers from AIDS activists. But on the very same day,  the nation’s top disease control official described an America falling far short in its fight against AIDS.

FDA Lifts Ban On Blood Donations By Gay And Bisexual Men

Dec 21, 2015

The Food and Drug Administration is relaxing a 32-year-old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

The FDA announced Monday that it was replacing a lifetime prohibition with a new policy that will allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they have not had sexual contact with another man for at least one year.

HIV/AIDS Drug Coverage Limited in Popular Marketplace Silver Plans

Nov 13, 2015
felix.castor / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In most states, consumers with HIV or AIDS who buy silver-level plans on the insurance marketplaces find limited coverage of common drug regimens they may need and high out-of-pocket costs, according to a new analysis.

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