Free HIV Testing in Alabama

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Alabama is located in the southeastern region of the United States. The state ranks 30th in terms of having the largest area and is the 24th most populous state of the country. Due to the fast spread of HIV/AIDS, it is termed a country-wide epidemic.

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The US government has been trying to consolidate efforts into making America an HIV-free country for quite some time now. According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) report Alabama had 16,200 cases in the year 2018. The annual HIV new diagnosis recorded in the same year was 508.

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Why Testing Matters?

In 2015, according to CDC, the total number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in the United States was 39,393. Statistics show that around 1 in every seven HIV-positive individuals does not know about their HIV-positive status. Therefore, health experts recommend that every individual should get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. For those living in areas where HIV-positive cases are high, HIV tests should be made a part of the annual routine checkups.

HIV attacks the body's immune system that provides a natural defense against several diseases. If HIV is left undiagnosed, the virus will weaken the immunity to a point where the body can no longer fight any infection. Treatment options for HIV include taking antiretroviral drugs that reduces the adverse effects that the virus afflicts, protecting the body from AIDS. Modes of transmission of the virus include sexual contact with an infected person, exchange of bodily fluids, or using contaminated needles and syringes.

HIV in Alabama

Considering the Census data, 2019 by the United States Bureau of Census, the total population of Alabama was 4.9 million. CDC indicates that the state of Alabama had a total of 16,200 active HIV cases, with 508 newly diagnosed cases in the year 2018. 17% of the population was not initially aware of their HIV-positive status, while 83% of the population was aware of their HIV status.

According to the HIV/AIDS report from AIDSvu the rate of people living with HIV in the state of Alabama per 100,000 population was 330. The rate of newly diagnosed cases per 100,000 population in 2018 was 15. There has been a steady increase in the number of newly diagnosed cases in Alabama. The numbers slowly increased from 481 newly diagnosed cases in the year 2015 to 508 in 2018. The increase in these numbers has been a cause of concern for the state authorities and programs regarding HIV awareness and treatments initiated to curb the spread of the virus.

Initiatives to Prevent HIV in Alabama

As a part of the greater mission of the HIV-free Unites States, the government of Alabama initiated a few programs to prevent the spread of the virus and provide treatment options to the HIV patients in the state. In collaboration with various community partners, Alabama Public Health has a specialized program designed for HIV prevention and care in the state. This program works towards monitoring the spread of the virus, providing public awareness regarding HIV, preventing and reducing the behaviors that are responsible for the spread of HIV, and strengthening the current system to provide effective and efficient treatment services to the patients.

AIDS Alabama is yet another organization that provides several services related to HIV care and prevention. The vision of AIDS Alabama is to end the epidemic in the state and reduce the stigma related to the infection. This organization has friendly and culturally sensitive services for the LGBTQ and the black communities who are being most affected by HIV. AIDS Alabama provides housing, health services, awareness programs, insurance premiums to the low-income groups, and HIV testing and treatment options. This organization has prevention programs that educate the general public regarding HIV prevention, STI testing, counseling, and outreach services to the communities at risk of the virus.

Thrive Alabama is one of the programs actively contributing to HIV care and treatment in Alabama. Thrive Alabama provides a comprehensive package of HIV testing and diagnosis, treatment, and prevention programs. It also provides support group services as well as counseling to HIV patients. Services like chronic disease management, nutrition counseling, and mental health services are all available for the patients.

Age, Gender and Ethnic Disparities

AIDSvu’s HIV/AIDS statistics from 2018 indicate that 72.8% males while 27.2% of the females were living with HIV in Alabama. Despite being 26 % of the total population in Alabama, the Black Americans were most affected by the virus. The total percentage of Black Americans living with HIV was 63.2%, 27% were White Americans, and 3.5% Hispanic or Latino. The rate of Black American males living with the virus was 5.3 times higher than White males. At the same time, the prevalence of HIV was 10.4 times higher in Black females than their white counterparts.

Of the newly diagnosed cases, 80.4 were males, and 19.6 were females. 71.7% of the total newly diagnosed cases were Black Americans, 21.9% were White Americans, and 2.6% were Hispanic. The age group of 25-34 years was most affected by the virus (33.9%), followed by adolescents and young adults, 13 to 24 years (30.6%). Of the new diagnosis, 15.2% were aged 35 to 44, 12.7% were aged between 45 to 54, while 7.6% of the total diagnoses were 55 years and above.

HIV-related mortalities in Alabama during 2018 were 127, while the rate of deaths per 100,000 population was 3. Of the total HIV-related mortalities, 73.2% were males, while 26.8% were females. In males, the modes of transmission of HIV were mainly due to male-to-male sexual contact (77.1%). Heterosexual contact in the affected males accounted for 10.8% of the spread, while 5.4% was spread due to injection use. In females, the maximum number of cases were reported due to heterosexual contact (83.9%), while 14.4% of the cases were due to injection & drug use.

References

Reviewed by Debby R, MD. Last updated on Aug 12, 2021

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