Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Withholding Vital Health Information

Jul 10, 2016

Health officials have expressed concern about increases in transmission of some diseases by those who share hypodermic needles to use illicit drugs. HIV and hepatitis C have been specified as special worries.
Knowing how serious the problem is might do a lot to convince substance abusers to mend their ways — to make use of the Ohio County Health Department’s program to provide them with sterile needles, for example.
But the state won’t tell them how much they should be concerned.
We know from state reports that the rate of new hepatitis C infections has skyrocketed in some of our local counties. Specific, county-by-county numbers are provided.
But HIV is another story. State officials will not reveal the number of active HIV cases in each county. We are told only that as of Dec. 31, 2014, there were 117 cases in the district including Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties and 135 cases in the seven-county district that includes Tyler County.
For years, state officials insisted providing county-level numbers would somehow compromise HIV victims’ privacy. Nonsense. It would not.
Now they say they cannot provide county-by-county figures. Again, nonsense.
Knowing how many people in a county suffer from certain diseases might prompt people to alter behavior to avoid contracting those illnesses. Apparently, state officials are not concerned enough to provide that information.

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