HIV Numbers Continue To Climb Locally

Aug 1, 2019

The Hamilton County Health Commissioner says he has a plan to reduce the number of  drug-injected HIV cases following increases from 2018 to 2019.

Dr. Tim Ingram spoke to WVXU following a conference of local and state health officials at the Cintas Center that included the head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Dr. Robert Redfield.

Ingram says the answer is "lots of prophylaxis in the form of prep, messaging, as well as expansion of the harm reduction program, as well as assuring those who are HIV positive when they go into their doctors they are being tested to see what their viral load is now."

In the State of the Union Address on Feb. 5, 2019, President Donald Trump announced his administration's goal to end the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield says the short-term goal for that plan is to get the number of cases down 75% in five years.

"This is nowhere as complicated as putting a man on the moon and getting him back alive and we celebrated that last week. The real risk as far as these local jurisdictions is they won't take ownership and make it their plan," according to Redfield.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, talks with local health officials about how to decrease the number of HIV cases.
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

Local health departments have taken steps.

Last November, the Hamilton County and Northern Kentucky health departments called in CDC investigators to help. Eight investigators studied similarities in HIV cases among intravenous drug users on both sides of the Ohio River.

This spring, Kentucky health officials announced a handful of pilot programs to eliminate the increasing number of HIV cases among drug users. The program is called KIRP, or Kentucky Income Reinvestment program.

One key component is the Harm Reduction Initiative which embeds Risk Reduction Specialists in syringe exchange programs.