Free HIV Testing in Alaska

Free and low-cost testing locations near you.

Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) first found its way to the United States and spread so quickly that it was declared an epidemic by health officials across the country. Over the years, the numbers of HIV-related deaths have declined, but the United States still has a long way to go to be HIV-free. African Americans, Gay & bisexual men, and people from Hispanic backgrounds remain disproportionately affected by the virus.

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Considering the HIV statistics, Alaska has one of the lowest HIV numbers in the country. According to the Center for Disease and Control report, CDC total number of adults and adolescents newly diagnosed with HIV in 2015 was 24. Alaska is the Northernmost and the westernmost state of the United States of America, and the country's biggest state in terms of area. Alaska is one of the least and sparsely populated states, ranking at the third least populated states of America.

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Why Testing Matters?

Center for Disease and Control (CDC) urges all the United States residents to get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. For individuals who live in HIV-populated areas, it is recommended to get tested annually. The test for HIV is a simple one that is done through a small finger prick. The result is generated in 15 minutes, and confidentially is assured. HIV is a deadly virus as it directly attacks the immune system of the body. If the virus is left untreated, it weakens the immune system to a point where the body is vulnerable to various infections and diseases.

Early diagnosis and testing for the virus can save an individual from the devastating effects of AIDS. Early treatment reduces the side effects of medications and increases the chances of long-term survival rates. If antiretroviral drugs (Drugs specified for HIV patients) are taken in time, the virus doesn't progress to AIDS. The virus is commonly transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person, using contaminated syringes, and exchange of body fluids. The virus is fast spreading and needs to be tested in treated to save oneself and partners from contracting the virus.

HIV Statistics in Alaska

According to the United States Bureau of Census data, 2019, the total population of Alaska was 731,545. Alaska is the third least populated state of the country. In comparison with the other states, the HIV statistics of Alaska have been low. Alaska is ranked 44th in the 50 states, considering the number of HIV-positive patients. According to CDC, Alaska had a total of 24 HIV-positive cases during the year 2015.

The numbers of newly diagnosed HIV cases 3 years apart were still more or less the same. As per the AIDSvu HIV/AIDS report, the total number of newly diagnosed cases in Alaska during 2018 was 23. The data from the same report indicates that 708 people were living with HIV in Alaska in 2018. The rate of people living with HIV per 100,000 population in 2018 was 118.

HIV Initiatives in Alaska

Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association, also known as the 4A's, is the state initiative to eliminate HIV-induced stigma, create awareness, and provide testing services to the general public. This association also has programs designed to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, specifically HIV, by providing free condoms to the state's residents. Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association also has a specialized syringe service program where the general public can bring their used syringes and receive new ones in return.

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, under the umbrella of the State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology that provides nonclinical support to various STIs, HIV in specific. The function of this organization is to collect the HIV-related data of the state, which provides a guide to the policy and decision-making. Services like counseling, case analysis, and referral programs are also available.

Ryan White Part B is yet another initiative to eradicate HIV in the state. Ryan White Part B is a federal initiative. The program has collaborated with various state organizations that use funds allocated by the federal government for the treatment and other related services of HIV. The program provides treatment and medication support to low-income groups. Medication, housing as well as insurance services are also available.

Age, Gender and Ethnic Disparities

According to the data from the year 2018 HIV/AIDS Report, 2018, a total of 23 people were newly diagnosed with HIV 23 while the total number of people living with HIV was 708. Alaskan males were disproportionately affected by the virus. Of the total number, the total percentage of males living with the virus was 74.9%. Female living with the virus accounted for 25.1% of the total numbers. 38.7% of the people living with HIV were White American, while 13.1% were Black Americans and 10% were of Hispanic or Latin origin.

Age-wise, the group that had the most cases of HIV was 55 years and above (33.6%), followed by the age group 45 to 54 years (30.1%), 19.4% of the age group 35 to 44, and 17% of the total people living with HIV were between 13 to 34 years. The rate of people living with HIV per 100,000 in 2018 in Alaska was 118.

The report also indicates 87% of the newly diagnosed cases were Alaskan males, and 13% were females. The new diagnosis rate per 100,000 population was 4. 30.4 % of the new diagnosis was White Americans, while 4.3% were Black Americans and 4.3% were of Hispanic origin.

In 2018, the total number of HIV-related mortalities during 2018 was 9. The rate of HIV-related death per 100,000 population was 2. 88.9% of the HIV-related deaths were males while 11.1% was female population. Considering the ethnicity wise HIV-related mortalities statistics, 77.8% were white Americans while 11.1% were Hispanic.

Of the total reported cases in Alaskan males, 70.8% were transmitted due to male-to-male sexual contact, while 10.2% were transmitted due to heterosexual contact. 7% of the reported cases were due to contaminated syringes or injection use. The transmission of HIV in females was mainly due to heterosexual contact (79.8%), while 17.4% of cases were reported to be because of contaminated injections or drug use.

References

Reviewed by Debby R, MD. Last updated on Aug 14, 2021

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