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Mr. Big Dog

Welcome to the Red State HIV Epidemic

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Funny how that works when the impacted communities are not minorities but good, god fearing white folk in the American heartland.

Welcome to the Red State HIV Epidemic

Over the past decade, the virus cascaded from urban cities like San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C., into poor, rural swaths of red states in middle America—opening a new front in the national fight against the spread of HIV. “It started in the coastal states among middle-class white gay men, and then the epidemic evolved into affecting more and more minorities in the South,” says Carlos del Rio, an AIDS researcher at Emory University in Atlanta. “Obviously, now the epidemic is changed. Now, what we're seeing is it impacting the rural communities.”

In this Indiana burg, the virus is not spreading among networks of gay men, but in rapid, cluster-like fashion within jobless white families who inject prescription painkillers with dirty needles.

“This is an HIV outbreak in a rural setting that is linked to an injection drug use,” says Jennifer Walthall, Indiana’s deputy state health commissioner. “That hasn’t been seen in the U.S. to date.” Since November, Walthall’s state health department has identified 163 cases of new HIV infections, including three preliminary positives. Eighty percent also tested positive for hepatitis C. “This was not on the radar,” Walthall says.

In April, Walthall’s office, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued a health advisory to public health departments nationwide—a preemptive salvo to stave off similar outbreaks among injection drug users. The missive targeted health departments in rural counties east of the Mississippi River, where opioid abuse and needle-borne infections are spiking, according to the CDC.

Scott County’s outbreak was so severe that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, long an opponent of funding needle exchanges as a member of Congress, issued an executive order in March that gave local health officials authority to establish a “limited and focused” 30-day needle exchange. Last Thursday, Jerome Adams, Indiana State Health Commissioner, declared a public health emergency in Scott County through May 2016, extending the needle exchange in Austin for another year. In Kentucky, where new HIV and hepatitis C infections are also skyrocketing, state lawmakers approved in March a law that would allow health departments and local governments to launch their own needle exchanges.

But no, there's no such thing as white privilege...

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This is either going to be the most ignored thread here, or get ready for a slew of anti-black comments...

“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge." -Toni Morrison

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


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