Too Many Have HIV And Don't Know It

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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An estimated 250,000 people in the United States have HIV and are not aware of it. In Marion County, there are more than 5,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. Another 25 percent of our population is HIV positive and not aware of their status. Do you know your HIV status?

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, an opportunity for people in Indianapolis and nationwide to learn their HIV status, and to gain knowledge to take control of their health and their lives.

The Marion County Health Department will open an HIV Testing Day Call Center on June 27, encouraging local residents to call 221-TEST to find a free HIV testing site close to them. Eight sites in Marion County will provide free testing on the 27th. Four of the testing sites will have bi-lingual health staff available. In most cases, test results should be available within 30 minutes. If a blood draw is necessary and results will be available in 14 days.

Two sites, Bridging the Gap and Life Care, will offer testing on Friday, June 26. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2006, the largest estimated proportion of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among adults and adolescents were for men who have sex with men (MSM), followed by persons infected through high-risk heterosexual contact.

Nationally in 2006, almost three quarters of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among adolescents and adults were for males.

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In the United States, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a health crisis for African Americans. At all stages of HIV/AIDS-from infection with HIV to death with AIDS-blacks (including African Americans) are disproportionately affected compared with members of other races and ethnicities.

According to the 2000 census, blacks make up approximately 13% of the U.S. population. However, in 2005, blacks accounted for 18,121 (49%) of the estimated 37,331 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting. Of all black men living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was sexual contact with other men, followed by injection drug use and high-risk heterosexual contact.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of all black women living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was high-risk heterosexual contact, followed by injection drug use. Of the estimated 141 infants perinatally infected with HIV, 91 (65%) were black. (CDC, HIV/AIDS Reporting System, unpublished data, December 2006). Of the estimated 18,849 people under the age of 25 whose diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was made from 2001-2004, in the 33 states with HIV reporting, 11,554 (61%) were black.

Socioeconomic issues and other social and structural influences affect the rates of HIV infection among. Studies have found an association between higher AIDS incidence and lower income. The socioeconomic problems associated with poverty, including limited access to high-quality health care, housing and HIV prevention education, may directly or indirectly increase the risk factors for HIV infection.

"These statistics associated with HIV represent more than numbers. Each represents a life, a family, friends, co-workers and other acquaintances impacted by a preventable, treatable disease," said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., director, Marion County Health Department.

The Marion County Health Department encourages anyone who is sexually active and who does not know their HIV status to be tested. Early detection leads to early intervention, more treatment options that are less invasive and offers a higher rate of success. Late detection can create additional health concerns; involve a longer recuperation time, more complicated treatment and a diminished rate of success.

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