Local News Noise & Notes Politics

State Health Officials Preparing for World AIDS Day

The Kentucky Department for Public Health is working to promote World AIDS Day on December 1 and unite people across the commonwealth in the fight against HIV.

The theme for this year’s observance is “Getting to Zero” with a push to get to zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths. Despite increased understanding of HIV and AIDS, state officials say the annual event is still needed as a reminder that the disease still impacts millions of people worldwide.

Kentucky Department for Public Health spokeswoman Beth Fisher says there is a vital need to improve education and for people to get tested.

“It’s still very important to increase awareness and to let people know HIV — while infection rates have decreased over the years — it’s a still very serious public health concern. We want people to be aware, to know their risk and to get tested because it hasn’t gone away and people still need to know their status,” she says.

Local News Next Louisville Politics

County Health Rankings Announced

Boone County in Northern Kentucky has the state’s healthiest residents, while Owsley County in Eastern Kentucky is the unhealthiest of the commonwealth’s 120 counties.

That’s according to the latest county health rankings compiled by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Sarojini Kanotra, director of the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System for the Kentucky Department of Health, says the rankings generally coincide with regional income and education levels, along with access to medical care and healthy food.

“The healthier counties are clustered in the central and western parts of Kentucky, whereas the least healthiest counties are in the eastern part of Kentucky,” she said.

Jefferson County, which ranks 33rd, gets high marks for access to medical care but a low grade for air quality.

Central Indiana’s Hamilton County is ranked as that state’s healthiest; Scott County, in Southern Indiana, is ranked last.

Local News

Health Officials: Flu Season Far From Over

Public health officials say despite the approaching arrival of spring, flu season is still far from over, and people are still being urged to get vaccinated.

Indiana public health officials have reported six recent flu deaths, and 16 for the season, most of them from h1n1, the virus that caused a pandemic last year.

Indiana Department of Public Health Respiratory Epidemiologist Shawn Richards says it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

“Flu shots are still very effective and if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s not going to harm you to go ahead and get vaccinated, and it is your best protection against the virus,” she said.

Richards says a single shot is now effective against both the H1N1 and seasonal flus.

Indiana and Kentucky are both reporting widespread flu activity. Flu season typically runs through May.

Local News

First Shipments of H1N1 Vaccine Coming To Region

Kentucky should begin receiving its first doses of H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine next week.  State Epidemiologist Kraig Humbaugh says the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is shipping Kentucky more than 24,000 doses of the vaccine, which initially will be in nasal spray form.

“We allocated that 24,300 to our 56 local health departments.  So, we gave them allocations based on per capita, and no county got less than 100 doses.  So, that was a hundred dose minimum.”

Health care workers and caregivers will be first in line to receive the vaccine.  Injectable forms of the vaccine likely won’t arrive until later this month or early November.  Swine flu is now widespread in Kentucky, but so far has proven to be no worse than seasonal flu, which usually begins in December.  

Indiana health officials announced Thursday that they’ve placed an initial order for nearly 29-thousand doses of the vaccine.