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Health

Tackling the HIV Epidemic on Both Sides of the River

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Drug users are leading the HIV infection increase.

New cases of HIV infection have been on the rise in recent years in our region. In 2017, there were 184 newly-diagnosed cases, up 34 percent from 2016. And for the first time in Kentucky's history, the most common risk factor for the transmission was I-V drug use.

The heroin epidemic has launched health departments into action, stepping up HIV testing and campaigns to encourage testing. Regional health departments have also increased needle exchanges, where people can turn in used syringes for clean ones.

Hamilton County's needle exchange program operates on a one-for-one basis, meaning one used needle exchanged for one clean needle. Two of the Northern Kentucky exchanges operate on an as-needed basis, giving out multiple syringes to patients. Now a bill proposed by a member of the Kentucky Senate would restrict the number of syringes to a one-for-one exchange.

Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss the needle exchange program in Ohio and Kentucky are Health Commissioner of Hamilton County Public Health Tim Ingram; Northern Kentucky Health Department District Director of Health Dr. Lynne Saddler; and Cincinnati Enquirer Heroin reporter Terry DeMio (@tdemio).

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