One of the state’s foremost HIV/AIDS public health officials has told a panel of state lawmakers Wednesday that the state’s health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, Kynect, is helping patients who have the virus.
Despite gains in treating the virus, it still disproportionately affects African-Americans and Hispanics.
According to data from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, African-Americans make up 38 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases despite representing only eight percent of the state population.
Kraig Humbaugh, senior deputy commissioner for the department, told members of the Joint Committee on Health and Welfare that those figures mirror a national trend. His only explanation for the difference lies in the risk factors listed by the data.
HIV vaccine research being conducted in Owensboro is getting a boost from a federal grant. The National Institutes of Health Monday announced a five-year, $14.7 million dollar grant for a project being led by the Owensboro Cancer Research program.
The goal is to create a gel-based vaccine that involves tobacco plants.
Researchers in Daviess County have been extracting a protein found in red algae, injecting it into tobacco plants, growing the tobacco on a massive scale, and then extracting the protein for use in a gel. Lab tests show the protein blocks HIV cells from entering uninfected cells.
Researchers have developed a gel using the protein that they hope can be used to stop the spread of HIV during sexual intercourse.
Owensboro Cancer Research program director Kenneth Palmer says the irony of using tobacco plants to possibly create a medical breakthrough isn’t lost on him.
A federal HIV vaccine trial that Vanderbilt University is being halted because of poor results. The nation’s most advanced clinical trial was stopped this week when an independent review discovered that more people who got a vaccine tested positive for HIV than those who received a placebo.
The trial involved 19 cities and had enrolled individuals marketed to people considered at high risk for contracting the virus.
A bill aimed at allowing victims of sexual assault to ask for quick HIV testing of their alleged attackers has cleared the Kentucky House.
Under current laws, only prosecutors can ask for HIV testing of the accused person, and they can only ask after a conviction. The bill would allow a victim or the prosecutor to ask for such a test before a conviction.
Bill sponsor Joni Jenkins says medical advances can prevent HIV from advancing into AIDS if caught early, but convictions often take up to three years.
"So it's critical for victims to know the offender's HIV status as soon as possible and not wait 1 to 3 years for the completion of trial for such information," said Rep. Jenkins.