Rhode Island’s Department of Health announced a sharp uptick in cases of sexually transmitted infections. Some have chalked it up to the increasing popularity of so-called hook-up apps like Tinder and Grindr. But I've been discovering that the evidence for that is not so clear-cut. I joined Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison to talk about it. Here's a transcript of our conversation, plus a link to listen to the audio.

Public health advocates are hoping they’ve defeated a House bill that would criminalize the transmission of HIV. The bill, sponsored by Coventry representative Robert Nardolillo III, would have made it a crime for someone to knowingly transmit the disease through sex, sharing drug paraphernalia, or donating blood.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Rhode Island is marking World AIDS Day, Monday with an event at the Statehouse.  The goal is to raise awareness about progress made, and progress still needed.

Eighty-seven new cases of HIV have been reported this year. That’s up from the 74 cases reported in 2013, and 87 too many say doctors and activists.

Tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 27) is the 29th annual AIDS Walk for Life, which begins at 10 am at the statehouse. Organizers (AIDS Project RI) are offering free, rapid HIV tests on site.

The event happens against the backdrop of news this week of lower awareness among gay men of HIV screening and treatment recommendations.

From Kaiser Health News:

Miriam Hospital

The Miriam Hospital has received another multimillion dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health to support HIV and AIDS research. The money will fund research into new treatments.

The Miriam is the state’s largest provider of HIV and AIDS care. The grant of $2.4 million dollars is a renewal that will help the institution continue its work as part of a multi-site aids research consortium, called the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) Network. That group’s work helped pioneer a new way to keep pregnant mothers from transmitting HIV to their babies.

The Miriam Hospital has become one of the first in the country to offer a new drug regimen that helps prevent HIV in people who’ve never been exposed to it. But the therapy does carry some risk.

Rhode Island observed World AIDS Day Monday.  This year’s theme is “get to zero.”

Twenty-seven year old Anthony Maselli has been living with HIV for a little over a year.  After much deliberation, he decided to go public with his disease and says he has not suffered any repercussions because of it.  That’s not to say, however, that it’s an easy disease to live with.

"It’s very stressful sometimes and emotional for me. It took a while for me to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say ‘I’m HIV positive’ without completely breaking down," said  Maselli.

It's World AIDS Day, and in Rhode Island several events are taking place to mark it, including an event earlier at the statehouse with the Rhode Island Coalition for HIV Prevention and announcements about new prevention initiatives by the Rhode Island Dept. of Health (more on those later).

Rhode Island Department of Health

Rhode Island Department of Health director Dr. Michael Fine says Rhode Island must address prescription drug abuse. Fine’s comments come as part of a list of priorities he’s shared with lawmakers.

Topping the list: ending deaths from prescription drug overdoses and colorectal cancer, as well as curbing the transmission of new HIV cases in Rhode Island. Fine also wants to reduce the number of premature births and C-section deliveries.