Feb 18, 2020 - Health

Rural communities face HIV outbreak risk due to lack of syringe exchanges

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Rural communities at risk of HIV outbreaks tied to drug use often don't have working syringe exchanges, which help reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C, NPR reports with Kaiser Health News.

Between the lines: Many of these rural communities have seen local opposition against syringe exchanges, which provide drug users with clean needles.

Why it matters: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 220 counties as being at risk of drug-fueled HIV outbreaks, but KHN found that less than a third of them have working syringe exchanges.

  • When such an outbreak occurred in Austin, Indiana, five years ago — tied to opioid painkiller abuse — there was initially resistance to a syringe program, particularly by then-Gov. Mike Pence. He changed his mind after the number of infected people skyrocketed.

The bottom line: The ripple effects of the opioid epidemic are devastating and have no easy answers.

Go deeper: Large gaps in opioid treatment remain for rural areas

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Rural America's meager business growth

Reproduced from Center for American Progress; Chart: Axios Visuals

The growth of small businesses has been concentrated in big cities and urban suburbs since the Great Recession, while nearly all rural areas have experienced substantial loss of businesses in the past decade.

Why it matters: "Firm growth is a crucial part of economic development, and business creation has been critical in the aftermath of previous recessions. But policies geared toward encouraging startups have not been effective in rural areas, leading to a growing regional divide," per a new report by the Center for American Progress.

America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

Drugmakers warn of medication shortages from coronavirus

Tourists with face masks walk through Union Square in New York City on Feb. 28. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Some of the largest drugmakers — including AstraZeneca, Merck and Pfizer — have said that the coronavirus outbreak could affect their supplies or sales, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Between the lines: Drug shortages can end up being incredibly serious for patients, but they're not good for business either.

Go deeperArrowMar 2, 2020 - Health