Arkansas is located in the South Central region of the United States of America. According to the United States Bureau of Census data, 2019, the state is home to 3 million people. The state is ranked 29th for having the largest area and 33rd most populated state of the country. For the past few decades, one of the primary concerns of health authorities across the country is to control the spread of HIV and make the country HIV-free.
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Currently, in the United States, approximately 1.2 million people live with the virus; if not controlled; this HIV epidemic will have a devastating impact. The Center for Disease and Control, CDC has ranked Arkansas 30th among all the 50th
states of the country in terms of a number of new diagnoses in 2015.
In 2015, 39,393 people were living with Human Immuno Deficiency Virus, commonly known as HIV, in the United States, according to CDC. The data from CDC also indicates that 14% of the people living with HIV make one in every seven HIV-positive individuals haven't tested for HIV and aren't aware of their HIV-positive status. HIV is widely termed one of the deadliest viruses, and if left untreated, the virus attacks the immune system and damages it. Once the virus weakens the human body's natural defense system, the body is left vulnerable to many infections and diseases. This stage where the virus almost erodes the immunity is known as AIDS.
The only thing that can save from the devastating effects of the virus other than preventive measures is the testing and early diagnosis. Antiretroviral drugs, if taken in time after the diagnosis, prevent from weakening the immunity and AIDS. Modes of transmission of the virus include sexual contact with an infected person, contaminated needles and syringes, and the exchange of bodily fluids. The virus spreads fast and doesn't have any symptoms till it has weakened the immunity to a catastrophic point. Therefore, health professionals recommend it for all United States citizens to get tested at least once in their lifetime for HIV. In individuals who live in areas populated with HIV-positive patients, testing annually should be part of the routine checkups.
According to the Census data, the State of Arkansas has a total population of 3 million people. The CDC data shows that the total number of newly diagnosed cases in Arkansas during 2015 was 258. The numbers have increased by a little in 4 years. According to AIDSvu’s HIV/AIDS Report 2018, 281 adults and adolescents were newly diagnosed with HIV in Arkansas. According to the same report, the total number of people living with HIV in Arkansas as recorded in 2018 was 5,722 adults and adolescents.
Considering the HIV/AIDS report data, the rate of people living with HIV per 100,000 population in Arkansas was 228 in 2018. The rate of newly diagnosed HIV cases per 100,000 population in the state was 11.
Owing to the fast-spreading HIV in the country, several federal and state agencies have consolidated their efforts to curb the spread of the virus and contribute to an HIV-free America. Just as all the other states, Arkansas has initiated some programs to monitor the spread of the virus, create awareness regarding the prevention of HIV and the importance of early testing and diagnosis, and provide treatment for the patients already suffering from the disease.
Arkansas Department of Health has initiated an HIV/AIDS surveillance program responsible for monitoring all the HIV cases in the state. The data collected through this program is used as a guide for policy decisions and the development of prevention and intervention services. The Arkansas Department of Health also provides awareness sessions regarding the prevention and the importance of early diagnosis to the general public.
HIV Arkansas is a local non-profit organization specially designed for providing non-clinical support to the people living with HIV in Arkansas. The organization provides support programs to encourage living life on a positive side to HIV patients.
Arkansas Department of Health has AIDS Drug Assistance Program, ADAP, that provides HIV/AIDS medications to low-income individuals with HIV. The program also provides hospitalization and other insurance services to people who can't afford it otherwise.
HIV/AIDS statistics from AIDSvu for the year 2018 shows that of the total HIV-positive population, 71.1% of the males and 22.9% females were living with the virus during 2018. The biggest ethnic groups being affected by the virus were Black Americans (44.0%), followed by White Americans (43%). Of the total population of people living with HIV, 7.2% were Hispanic or Latino. Black Americans remain the ethnicities affected mainly by the virus; despite being only 15% of the total population according to the Census data, the percent of HIV positive black Americans is the biggest.
Considering the numbers of newly diagnosed cases, HIV cases in black Americans accounted for 55.5%, White Americans 33.8%, and Hispanic 8.2%. Of the total newly diagnosed cases, 81.1 % were males, and 18.9% were females. The age group 25-34 was mainly affected by the virus (35.9%), followed by young adults and adolescents (27.8%). 17% of the newly diagnosed cases belonged to 35 to 44 years, and 18% were 45 years and above.
According to the HIV/AIDS report, the total number of HIV-related deaths in the state during 2018 was 80. The rate of HIV-related mortalities per 100,000 population was 3. Of the total number of HIV-related deaths, 76.3% were males, while 23.8% were females. Again, black Americans living in Arkansas were the biggest ethnic groups considering the HIV numbers (45%), followed by White Americans (42.5%) and Hispanic (5%).
Modes of transmission of HIV in the males were mainly due to male-to-male sexual contact (78.4%); 7.3% of the cases were reported due to the use of injection and drugs. Heterosexual contact in males accounted for 6.6% of the total spread. In females, the transmission of the virus via heterosexual contact accounted for 80%. 17% of the cases reported in females were due to injection and drug use.