Whitesburg KY
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Study: Needle users need AIDS pill

Free HIV test offered here

With national HIV Testing Day scheduled for June 27, Kentucky’s local health departments are reminding citizens that testing for HIV is free.

The goal is to let individuals learn their status and be linked to services if needed. Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield says testing is one of the best ways to prevent transmission, ensure good health outcomes, keep costs down and keep infected people healthy.

Since 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended routine testing for everyone, regardless of risk factors, and specifically for anyone ages 13 to 64.

The Letcher County Health Department is located at 115 E. Main Street in Whitesburg. The telephone number there is 633-2945.

Meanwhile, a new study urges doctors to consider giving a daily AIDS drug to drug addicts who shoot pain medications such as oxycodone and other injection drugs such as heroin and methamphetamines or other injection drugs.

A similar recommendation is already in place for gay men and heterosexual couples at high risk of catching HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The latest advice was triggered by the results of a study done in Thailand that showed the AIDS drug tenofovir protected many drug users. Volunteers who took the daily pill were about 50 percent less likely to become infected than those given a dummy pill.

“This study completes the story” telling how HIV drugs can protect people at highest risk of infection, said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of AIDS prevention for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The research by the CDC and the Thailand government was published online last week by the journal Lancet.

Based on the findings, the CDC recommended that doctors consider prescribing tenofovir to those who inject drugs. It blocks the virus from making copies and spreading through the body. In the U.S., tenofovir is included in an AIDS drug called Truvada.

HIV infections in drug users is a bigger problem worldwide, where they account for about 1 in 10 new cases each year and the vast majority of infections in some places in Eastern Europe and central Asia. In the U.S., they represent about 1 in 13 new cases. People who inject drugs can spread the AIDS virus to others through sharing tainted needles or sex.

The latest study was the first in people who inject drugs. It looked at about 2,400 uninfected patients at 17 drug treatment clinics in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital and largest city.

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