As the opioid crisis has continued to plague the nation, a less-reported story for journalists to consider is the surging number of bacterial and viral infections threatening to make the crisis worse.
The rise includes an increase in bacterial infections caused by Staphlococcus aureus, a pathogen that is often resistant to antibiotics – and a climb in new HIV, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and skin and soft tissue infections.
“A converging public health crisis is emerging because the opioid epidemic is fueling a surge in infectious diseases,” said the Journal of Infectious Diseases in August 2019. Continue reading
At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, those with the disease typically only lived a few years beyond diagnosis. Today, breakthrough drugs, earlier diagnosis and more evidence-based treatment mean those with HIV or AIDS can live longer, healthier lives. But with these advances come new challenges associated with aging.
With this longer life expectancy, individuals living with long-term HIV infection exhibit many clinical characteristics commonly observed in aging: multiple chronic diseases or conditions, the use of multiple medications, changes in physical and cognitive abilities, and increased vulnerability to stressors. Continue reading
In April 1984, then-U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announced the National Cancer Institute had discovered the virus that caused acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and scientists hoped to soon have a cure.
Since the epidemic began, around 35 million people have died around the world from AIDS-related illnesses, and there is still no widely available cure. There have, however, been huge advances in treatment, with new drugs to prevent the disease and drugs that enable those diagnosed with the virus -human immunodeficiency virus or HIV – that causes AIDS, to live into their 70s. Continue reading
Two high-profile safety breaches have highlighted the importance of close adherence to infection control protocols in dental clinics and offices.
In both recent cases, patients have been advised to undergo testing for HIV and hepatitis B and C due to possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
In Seattle and nearby Vashon Island, news broke in early April that nearly 1,300 students face infection risks because equipment used in school clinics was improperly sterilized. Ten school-based dental clinics operated by Neighborcare, a local health center have been impacted by the safety breach. Continue reading
Heather Boerner’s October 2018 piece at NPR examined the fate of people who live without treatment for their HIV after they leave prison. The piece was pinned to a study published in PLOS One showing that people with HIV often are lost to care once they leave the monitoring and services provided in prison.
In her article, in addition to providing an in-depth perspective from several experts, Boerner also gave the reader the story of Bryan C. Jones, who had left a prison in Ohio and almost immediately ditched his HIV drugs because he knew they were no longer working. Continue reading
Neil Moralee via Flickr
Socioeconomic factors such as poverty and living conditions play a role in shaping infection risk and disease outcomes.
Many times people in poverty live in crowded conditions, have limited access to quality health care, must work when they are sick, eat less nutritiously, get less sleep, face more stress and are more likely than others to abuse drugs and alcohol. All of these factors hinder immunity and increase susceptibility to infection and death. Continue reading