HIV/AIDS

Sammy Mack / WLRN News

Florida counties can now authorize needle exchanges, after a bill aimed at reducing HIV and hepatitis C was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.

In high-income countries like the U.S., the standard of care for people infected with HIV is to provide antiretroviral pills when the virus is found, even when there are no symptoms of AIDS. The strategy staves off the disease and has a second — big — benefit. It has been shown to prevent the spread of HIV in sexual encounters. It's called "treatment as prevention" (TasP in medical jargon), or "test and treat."

Susan Stocker / Sun Sentinel

The science exists to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is challenging Floridians to do their part and make it happen, reports the Sun Sentinel.

“Bringing the AIDS epidemic to an end is no longer aspirational ... It is doable,” Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, told an international audience of more than 500 people in Miami Beach on Monday. “We have the tools to bring this to an end.”

When the first HIV drug, AZT, came to market in 1987, it cost $10,000 a year.

That price makes Peter Staley laugh today. "It sounds quaint and cheap now, but $10,000 a year at that time was the highest price ever set for any drug in history," he says.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

The state legislative session is over and the fate of a bill that would allow the expansion of needle exchanges throughout Florida is now up to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Infectious Disease Elimination Programs bill creates a legal mechanism for counties to authorize programs that swap clean syringes for dirty ones. Needle exchanges have been shown to reduce the spread of blood borne infections—like HIV and hepatitis C—among injection drug users.

The bill passed 111-3 in the Florida House and unanimously in the Florida Senate.

A Promising Anti-HIV Drug Poses A Dilemma

Apr 19, 2019

If you live in a wealthy country, you have choices about your medical care.

Let's say you're a young woman who is HIV-positive and find out there's a new treatment that's much better for your long-term health. But there's a potential problem: If you get pregnant, the drug could cause a serious birth defect in your baby.

Hansel Tookes

The Florida Legislature has approved a bill that will allow the expansion of needle exchanges throughout Florida.

The Infectious Disease Elimination Programs bill—which passed a house vote on Wednesday and has already passed in the Florida Senate—creates a legal mechanism for counties to authorize programs that swap clean syringes for dirty ones. Needle exchanges have been shown to reduce the spread of blood borne infections—like HIV and hepatitis C—among intravenous drug users.

In his State of the Union address this year, President Trump announced an initiative "to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years."

The man who pitched the president on this idea is Alex Azar, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Nicolas Z. Erwin

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month across the country and the Florida Department of Health is offering free testing in all South Florida counties.

According to the state's Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, the Sunshine State is seeing a rise in cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. Florida is ranked third in the country for new cases of HIV infections in the country, and Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale have the highest rates of new infections of any metro area in the U.S.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

There's a proposal in Tallahassee right now that could make it easier for injection drug users to trade dirty needles for fresh ones -- preventing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

A trial project in Miami Dade County is the only legal needle exchange in Florida. The bill would let the other counties to create something similar.

WMFE

The 2019 legislative session begins Tuesday. Over 60 days, lawmakers will tackle the states’ biggest issues, including school safety, education and health care.

Khotcharak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Floridians living with HIV are increasingly getting the medications they need to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the virus, according to a new report from the federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

About 9.4 million people are likely HIV-positive and don't know it. That's a key finding from a new report from UNAIDS — and it's why the theme of this month's World AIDS Day is "Know your HIV status."

As the remains of former President George H.W. Bush lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, LGBTQ activists and some journalists have been calling attention to his mixed legacy on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which was raging during his administration.

Bush died at the age of 94, on the eve of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.

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