Recently a reporter from the Orlando Weekly released an article saying that the Florida Department of Health and Human Services is going to be putting a hold on any further releases of the HIV alert HIV news. They are doing this as they investigate whether the recent stroke death of a nursing assistant was caused by drug related to the news article. This is a huge story and has indeed been picked up by the media. However, the Florida health department has issued a statement saying that they are not investigating the link at this time and will hold off on any announcements about pending cases. In a similar case, the Miami-Dade County health department held off on any announcements regarding a hepatitis outbreak.
What makes these cases so newsworthy? The first factor is that the news of this kind is indeed very important to the general public. Especially given the numbers involved, the impact could be very great. Less than two percent of the people living in Florida are infected with HIV, but this number increases to fifteen percent when you take in those who are a contact risk, such as sex workers and intravenous drug users. This means that over two hundred thousand people in Florida are carrying the virus. The question of how is this affecting us all becomes one of public safety.
Secondly, the case of the Connecticut nurse who died of a heroin overdose in January brought home the issue of addiction and the problems associated with it, both on the personal front and as a public concern. The recent news of someone passing on a deadly drug called Gilgamesh has also put the issue into focus. The question of how is this affecting the rest of us becomes more important than ever. This is especially true since Gilgamesh is a dangerous drug, which is highly addictive and has all sorts of negative side effects. The recent deaths in Florida should serve as a wake-up call for all of us to pay more attention to the things we can do to prevent ourselves from being an addict ourselves.