Know Your Status

Over 6,000 Virginians Might not Know their Status!

About 19,000 People in Virginia Living With HIV/AIDS, Additional 6,000 Might Not Know Their Status, Study Says

Retrieved from the Kaiser HIV/AIDS Report December 7, 2007

There are about 19,000 reported cases of HIV/AIDS in Virginia, and an additional 6,000 people might not be aware of their HIV-positive status, according to a recently released study conducted by the Virginia Department of Health and the department’s HIV Community Planning Committee, the Washington Post reports.

According to the study, newly diagnosed HIV cases reported in the state decreased from almost 1,600 in 1997 to less than 1,200 in 2006. The study found that 351 per 100,000 men and 125 per 100,000 women at the end of 2006 were living with HIV/AIDS. Among the people living with HIV/AIDS, 62% were black, 31% were white and 6% were Hispanic, according to the study (Kumar, Washington Post, 12/6). In addition, the report found that people ages 30 to 39 were the largest group living with the disease. Thirty- eight percent of cases occurred among men who have sex with men; 20% of cases were the results of heterosexual contact; and 13% of cases were among injection drug users (AP/Hampton Roads Daily Press, 12/5). In general, more cases were reported in more populated, urban areas of the state; however, people living with the disease in rural areas might have more trouble finding resources, Kathy Hafford, acting director for the health department’s division of disease prevention, said.

According to the Post, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS slowly has increased as people are living longer because of improved antiretroviral drugs and more access to health care. The health department in an accompanying strategic plan recommended that more funding be allocated to needle- exchange programs; collaboration be increased with methamphetamine programs; and efforts to use Spanish speakers to reach the Hispanic population are bolstered. Elaine Martin, director of community services for the division of disease prevention, said, “The plan and profile are useful for planners at both the state and local levels.” She added, “They provide city and county governments, community organizations, health care planners and educators with current data they can use to create effective prevention and care plans to protect the people in their localities” (Washington Post, 12/6).