HIV

Ethan Howard cradled his prized Martin-brand guitar, strumming gently as he sang of happiness he thought he'd never find.

With support from his family and community, the 26-year-old is making his way as a musician after emerging from the hell of addiction, disease and stigma. The former intravenous drug user was among the first of 235 people in the southern Indiana community of Austin, Ind., to be diagnosed in the worst drug-fueled HIV outbreak ever to hit rural America.

In more than 30 states, it is illegal for someone with HIV to have sex without first disclosing their status. Some are now pushing to change that, arguing that the laws are actually endangering public health.

More than 1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and their HIV status could conceivably put them behind bars. That's what happened to Michael Holder.

"I served 8 1/2 years in prison and three years after on parole," Holder says.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Gene editing, or the process of making specific changes to DNA, is already helping cancer patients and people with certain inherited diseases. The technology may eventually lead to a cure for AIDS.

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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.

In 2016, African Americans accounted for 44% of HIV diagnoses, despite making up just 12% of the U.S. population. There is still a major stigma around the HIV epidemic and this can be even more pronounced in the African American community. In an effort to raise awareness and end that stigma, February 7th, 2019 was designated National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a time for education, community engagement and testing.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Eight investigators from the Centers for Disease Control are in Greater Cincinnati for the next several weeks trying to determine similarities in HIV cases among intravenous drug users on both sides of the Ohio River. It's hoped their findings can help prevent new cases.

Needle exchanges provide people with drug addictions a place to turn in used needles and get new ones while working to prevent outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV. In 2017, Las Vegas installed three vending machines to dispense free, unused needles.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young learns more from Chelsi Cheatom, program manager for Trac-B Exchange, a medical clinic in Clark County, Nevada.

The National Institutes of Health announced Monday the launch of a large scale clinical trial that will expand efforts to give more HIV positive transplant candidates new kidneys. The new study will track 160 kidney transplants.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

It's too early to tell if Hamilton County's needle exchange program may be making a difference in local HIV infections. The number of new cases in the first quarter of this year is less than the same period last year. But more of the cases come from intravenous drug use (IDU).

Recent Increase In Local HIV Cases

Jan 17, 2018
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Health officials in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky recently reported an increase in the number of HIV cases linked to injection drug use in the region. The increase is the result of the continuing heroin crisis, as drug users share needles contaminated with the virus. That's why many health experts advocate for needle exchange programs, such as The Cincinnati Exchange Project (CEP), or the one operated in the Northern Kentucky Health Department's Grant County office.