What Next

HIV’s Threat to Rural America

The possibility of a new public health problem looms large where the opioid epidemic hit hardest.


Episode Notes

Two maps can help tell the story of a looming public health problem in rural America. One, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows 220 of the most vulnerable counties in America either experiencing or at risk of an HIV outbreak. The other, published by the Washington Post, shows where pharmaceutical companies sent most of their pain pills at the height of the opioid crisis. These maps almost perfectly match up. And in Cabell County, West Virginia, a place acutely affected by the opioid crisis, 80 new cases of HIV have been diagnosed since last year. On the show, what’s going on in West Virginia, and what can be done to help?

Guests: A. Toni Young, AIDS activist and founder of the Community Education Group. Dr. Steven W. Thrasher, professor of journalism and LGBTQ health at Northwestern University. He recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times.

Podcast production by Mary Wilson, Jayson De Leon, Danielle Hewitt, and Mara Silvers.

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About the Show

The problem with the news right now? It’s everywhere. And each day, it can feel like we’re all just mindlessly scrolling. It’s why we created What Next. This short daily show is here to help you make sense of things. When the news feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you answer: What next? Look for new episodes every weekday morning.

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  • Mary Harris is the host and managing editor of What Next, Slate's new daily news podcast. She has reported throughout the public radio system, for NPR, Marketplace, and WNYC.