Richard Knox

Since he joined NPR in 2000, Knox has covered a broad range of issues and events in public health, medicine, and science. His reports can be heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, and newscasts.

Among other things, Knox's NPR reports have examined the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, North America, and the Caribbean; anthrax terrorism; smallpox and other bioterrorism preparedness issues; the rising cost of medical care; early detection of lung cancer; community caregiving; music and the brain; and the SARS epidemic.

Before joining NPR, Knox covered medicine and health for The Boston Globe. His award-winning 1995 articles on medical errors are considered landmarks in the national movement to prevent medical mistakes. Knox is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Columbia University. He has held yearlong fellowships at Stanford and Harvard Universities, and is the author of a 1993 book on Germany's health care system.

He and his wife Jean, an editor, live in Boston. They have two daughters.

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2:17pm

Tue July 17, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Cholera Vaccination Test Reached Targets In Haiti

A lone pig roots through trash dumped over the side of a sewage canal that runs from the center of Port au Prince through Cite de Dieu. During the rainy season, the canal overflows its banks and fills nearby houses with sewage, which can carry cholera.
John W. Poole NPR

The results are in on this spring's high-visibility pilot project to vaccinate 100,000 Haitians against cholera.

Almost 90 percent of the target population – half in Port-au-Prince and the other half in a remote rural area – got fully protected against cholera, meaning they got 2 doses of the oral vaccine.

The results defy the forecasts of skeptics who said in advance of the campaign that it would be lucky to protect 60 percent of the target populations.

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3:05am

Tue July 17, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Deciding On Truvada: Who Should Take New HIV Prevention Pill?

Originally published on Sat July 28, 2012 11:05 am

Kevin Kirk (left) and James Callahan have been together for more than five years. Recently they sat down and talked about whether Kevin, who is HIV-negative, might want to start taking Truvada.
Richard Knox NPR

There's something new to prevent HIV infections.

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a once-a-day pill that can drastically lower a person's risk of getting the virus that causes AIDS.

It's called Truvada — the first HIV prevention pill.

It's not cheap — around $13,000 a year — and it's not clear what insurers will pay for it. And there's worry that people taking the pill might relax safe-sex precautions.

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3:06am

Thu July 12, 2012
AIDS: A Turning Point

'Treatment As Prevention' Rises As Cry In HIV Fight

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 12:21 pm

While Kenya Jackson (right) is on his thrice-weekly dialysis treatment, community health worker Greg Jules talks to him about taking his medication.
Richard Knox NPR

AIDS researchers, policymakers and advocates are increasingly convinced that treating HIV is one of the best ways of preventing its spread.

The rallying cry is "treatment as prevention," and it's the overarching theme of this month's International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

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6:15pm

Tue July 3, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

New Home Test For HIV May Cut Down New Infections

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 10:38 am

The Food and Drug Administration just approved the OraQuick test, which detects the presence of HIV in saliva collected using a mouth swab.
Chuck Zovko AP

No infectious disease has ever been detectable by a test that consumers can buy over the counter and get quick results at home. But HIV isn't just any infection. It's a stubborn pandemic virus that's still making people sick and killing them 31 years after it first appeared – even though infection is easily prevented and effectively treated.

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4:04pm

Tue July 3, 2012
Health

Treating HIV: From Impossible To Halfway There

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 2:20 pm

Francois St. Ker, 55, was on the brink of dying from AIDS in the spring of 2001. Today, he's a successful farmer and is in good health, thanks to treatment for his HIV.
John Poole NPR

This story begins 11 years ago. It was a time when many, if not most, experts said it was unthinkable to treat people with AIDS in developing countries using the triple-drug regimens that were routinely saving the lives of patients in wealthier countries.

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4:39pm

Fri June 22, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Drug-Resistant Germ In Rhode Island Hospital Raises Worries

Pretty to look at, almost, but Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria these are a common cause of infections in hospitals.
CDC

A highly resistant form of a common bacterium recently popped up in two Rhode Island patients, only the 12th and 13th times it has been spotted in this country.

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5:29pm

Mon June 18, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Scientists Find New Wrinkle In How Cholera Got To Haiti

A Haitian protester in Port-au-Prince last year spray-paints a wall, equating the UN mission in Haiti (abbreviated here as MINISTA) with cholera.
Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images

Most researchers currently believe that United Nations peacekeeping soldiers introduced cholera to Haiti in October of 2010.

After all, Haiti hadn't recorded cholera for as long as a century, Nepal had experienced a cholera epidemic in the months preceding the soldiers' arrival, and the Haitian and Nepalese cholera strains were found to be nearly identical.

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4:41am

Wed June 13, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Traces Of Virus In Man Cured Of HIV Trigger Scientific Debate

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 9:35 am

Timothy Ray Brown, widely known in research circles as the Berlin patient, was cured of his HIV infection by bone marrow transplants. Now scientists are trying to make sense of the traces of HIV they've found in some cells of his body.
Richard Knox NPR

Top AIDS scientists are scratching their heads about new data from the most famous HIV patient in the world — at least to people in the AIDS community.

Timothy Ray Brown, known as the Berlin patient, is thought to be the first patient ever to be cured of HIV infection.

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5:04pm

Wed June 6, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis A 'Serious Epidemic' In China

Gao Weiwei, a doctor of the Beijing Chest Hospital which specializes in the treatment of tuberculosis, talks to a patient suspected to have tuberculosis at the hospital in Tongzhou, near Beijing, March 27, 2009.
Ng Han Guan AP

China's first national survey of tuberculosis has produced some of the worst TB news in years.

Out of the million Chinese who develop TB every year, researchers say at least 110,000 get a form that's resistant to the mainstay drugs isoniazid and rifampin. Patients with such multidrug-resistant or MDR tuberculosis have to be treated for up to two years with expensive second-line drugs that are toxic and less effective.

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11:57am

Thu May 31, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Sick in America: Hispanics Grapple With Cost And Quality Of Care

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 2:27 pm

iStockphoto.com

In our recent poll on what it means to be sick in America, one ethnic group stands out as having special problems – Hispanic Americans.

The national survey, conducted by NPR with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, sheds new light on Hispanics' health issues. It runs counter to the widespread impression that African-Americans are worst-off when it comes to the cost and quality of health care.

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7:29pm

Tue May 29, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Counterfeiters Exploit Shortage To Market Fake Adderall Pills

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 8:48 am

If the label of ingredients on the Adderall pack says "singel entity," that's a tip-off for trouble.
FDA/Flickr

A shortage of Adderall began last year, sending millions of people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy on perpetual wild goose chases to find drugstores with the pills they need to stay alert and focused.

So it's not surprising that Adderall counterfeiters have seized a big marketing opportunity. What is surprising is their clumsiness.

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3:22pm

Mon May 28, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

With PSA Testing, The Power Of Anecdote Often Trumps Statistics

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 9:46 am

Millions of men and their doctors are trying to understand a federal task force's recommendation against routine use of a prostate cancer test called the PSA.

The guidance, which came out last week, raises basic questions about how to interpret medical evidence. And what role expert panels should play in how doctors practice.

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6:01pm

Tue May 22, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Easier Colon Cancer Test Works Well, But Colonoscopy's Still King

A big study of a colon cancer test called flexible sigmoidoscopy may provide a good example of how a cheaper, easier-on-the-patient and possibly better technology isn't always the one American doctors choose to use.

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8:21pm

Mon May 21, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

All Routine PSA Tests For Prostate Cancer Should End, Task Force Says

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 2:33 pm

Terry Dyroff, at home in Silver Spring, Md., got a PSA blood test that led to a prostate biopsy. The biopsy found no cancer, but it gave him a life-threatening infection.
Jose Luis Magana AP

There they go again — those 17 federally appointed experts at the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are telling American doctors and patients to stop routinely doing lifesaving tests.

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6:22pm

Mon May 21, 2012
Medical Treatments

Task Force: Men Don't Need Regular Prostate Tests

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 7:00 pm

A federal task force has concluded that men over 50 don't need a regular blood test for prostate cancer. Millions of men get the test every year. The task force says too many unnecessary treatments are being performed because of the test.

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