NATIONAL. Drug, HIV crises hit HHS nominee Price close to home

By Meredith Wadman Dec. 2, 2016

Representative Tom Price (R–GA), the physician and congressman who is Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), represents a wealthy suburban district just north of Atlanta that is regularly ranked by Forbes and others as one of the best places to live in the country.

But Price’s district is also experiencing some public health crises that he will likely be dealing with as HHS secretary: a serious heroin and opioid abuse epidemic, as well as elevated HIV infection rates.

The heroin problem was described in great detail in this investigative special by the local NBC affiliate 11Alive, which aired in March.  The narrator introduces the multipart series with the following stark facts:

“Just north of Atlanta, heroin is killing more of our young people than violent crime. Atlanta’s most affluent area is dealing with a nearly 4000% increase in heroin-related deaths over the past 5 years.” She names as particular problems towns including Alpharetta, Roswell, and Johns Creek—all in the heart of Price’s district.

Data released this week by the Big Cities Health Coalition Project further flesh out the picture. It shows Fulton County—which takes up a chunk of Price’s district, as well as much of the city of Atlanta—with a higher rate of HIV diagnoses in 2013 and of accidental deaths from opioid overdoses in 2014 than all but one of 28 cities studied.

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