Free HIV Testing in Idaho

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HIV over the last few decades has become a significant cause of concern for health authorities across the globe. Owing to the rapid increase in the cases, it has been termed as an epidemic in the U.S.

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During the 1970s, the first cases of HIV were diagnosed in America, and since then, the government, in collaboration with various state and federal health departments, have been devising policies to prevent the spread and minimize the damage caused by the virus. Considering the American population, ethnic groups like Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by this virus. The prevalence of HIV is more in gay or bisexual men or those involved in various injectable drugs.

Why Testing Matters?

HIV is the name of the virus that directly attacks the cells that enables the human body to fight various deadly infections, ultimately weakening the immune system and making the body vulnerable to various infections and diseases. The virus is contracted by contact with certain body fluids from the infected person, most commonly spread due to unprotected sexual contact. Another most common mode of transmission of the virus is using contaminated injections or syringes.

This virus is so deadly because no apparent symptoms are shown in the HIV-positive person during the initial stages of infection. The symptoms of weakened immunity are only shown when the virus progresses to its final stage, known as AIDS. It is, therefore, that a lot of emphases is made on regular testing and early diagnosis.

Centers for Disease and Control, CDC reports indicate that by the end of 2018, a total of 1.2 million U.S citizens were living with HIV. The numbers were highly alarming, and the federal and state health authorities have started focusing on spreading awareness regarding the benefits of early testing and diagnosis. CDC recommends that all citizens of America get tested at least once in their lifetime. For individuals residing in areas affected by the virus, it is recommended to get tested annually as a part of the routine checkup.

Various studies show that the mortality rate of HIV patients is three folds higher in case of late diagnosis and late treatment. Early treatment can save an HIV-positive individual from getting to the critical final stage, AIDS.

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HIV in Idaho

Idaho is a U.S state located in the northwestern part of the country. The state is home to beautiful landscapes and mountain ranges. In terms of area, Idaho is considered to be the 14th largest state. According to the data from the U.S Bureau of Census, Idaho's population is 1.8 million, making it the 13th least populated state.

Considering the data obtained from the United States Census Bureau, 2019, the total population of Idaho was 1.7 million. The majority of the population of Idaho are White Americans (93%). The rest of the ethnic groups, such as Black Americans, Asians, and individuals of Hispanic origin, are a minority in Idaho.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, CDC Idaho is among those states where the prevalence of HIV is fairly low. In 2015, the state reportedly had 38 adults and adolescents newly diagnosed with the virus.

The numbers from CDC, Idaho State profile indicates that during the year 2015, only 38 individuals were newly diagnosed with HIV. In 2018 according to a report by AIDSVu, the numbers of newly diagnosed cases in the state remained 37, which means that during four years, the numbers of newly diagnosed cases were still the same.

CDC has ranked Idaho43rd of the 50 U.S states of having the largest number of HIV patients. In 2018 1176 adults and adolescents were living with HIV in Idaho. The rate of people living with HIV per 100,000 population was 82.

HIV Initiatives in Idaho

As a part of the bigger plan to make America an HIV-free country, there have been several state and federal initiatives that constantly work for facilitating HIV patients in numerous ways and streamlining the treatment opportunities.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has a few programs specially designed to spread awareness and provide HIV prevention interventions to Idaho residents. These preventive interventions include HIV counseling, testing, and referral services in both clinical and community settings. The department has a program for condom distribution to avoid the transmission of virus due to unprotected sexual contact and provision of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Prep is the medication made available by the IDAHO Department of Health and Welfare for reducing the risk of contracting HIV through sexual contact. The medication, however, does not guarantee total protection against this virus. Hence a regular screening is essential too.

AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, ADAP, Idaho is a federally funded initiative that ensures essential medications and treatment services to people living with HIV/AIDS belonging to low-income groups.

Idaho Housing and Finance Association provides various financial assistance services and housing opportunities to the low-income groups of people living with HIV. The financial assistance program involves retaining the affected individual/family's current house financially by paying rent.

Ryan White Part B is a federal funding program that funds state-level organizations that provide treatment and other support services to individuals living with HIV. The program gives funds for medical insurance, treatment, rental support to retain houses, and other services such as transportation to and from the hospital, counseling, and other awareness sessions for the general public.

Age, Gender and Ethnic Disparities

According to a report by AIDSVu, the total number of individuals living with HIV in Idaho during the year 2018 was 1176, of which 37 alone were newly diagnosed during the same year. The rate of people living with HIV per 100,000 population during 2018 was 82.

Considering the AIDSVu report, 80.7% of the total people living with HIV were males, while 19.3% were females. White Americans were mainly affected by the virus, so 68.2% of the total positive cases were White Americans, followed by 16.3%Hispanic or Latin individuals, and 9.2% of the cases were Black Americans. The prevalence of the virus was found more in people above 55 years of age (38 %).

During 2018 the total number of HIV-related mortalities in Idaho was 13, while the rate of HIV-related deaths per 100,000 population was 1. The most common mode of transmission of the virus in males was male to male sexual contact (68.5%) while the most common modes of transmission of HIV in females was heterosexual contact (66.5%).

Reviewed by Debby R, MD. Last updated on Jan 13, 2022