Free HIV Testing in Massachusetts

Free and low-cost testing locations near you.

Massachusetts lies in the northeastern region of the United States. According to recent data, the population of Massachusetts in 2021 is estimated to be more than 7.1 million, making it the 15th most populated state of the country. The state is ranked as 44th of the 50 U.S states in terms of area. Massachusetts is widely known for its residents having the highest IQ in the country. The state is also home to some of the world's most prestigious universities, such as Harvard.

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Why Testing Matters?

Since the first recorded cases of HIV in the United States, there have been more than 700,000 HIV-related mortalities. Today roughly around 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV. In 2007 there were 45,700 new diagnoses of HIV in the country. With various health authorities' ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns across the country, the numbers considerably dropped to an all-time low of 34,800 by the end of 2019. HIV has significantly impacted specific populations and groups such as gay or bisexual males and transgender women. The prevalence of the disease is also more in Black or African Americans than their white counterparts. The only way to stop it from impacting people is to get tested regularly for all sexually transmitted diseases, particularly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that people between the ages 13-24 account for over one quarter of all new HIV infections in the USA every year, which is nearly 26% of all infections. And, most of these young adults living with HIV (almost 60%) are unaware of their HIV status. That’s because people at such young age do not even think about getting tested for HIV. Therefore, the virus progresses into its more advanced stage, which is called AIDS, and these individuals keep infecting others through sexual contact. It is extremely important to get tested for HIV regularly, at least once a year for sexually active individuals and after every three months for men who have sex with men and those with multiple sex partners.

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HIV in Massachusetts

Like the other parts of the country, Massachusetts has been badly impacted by the HIV epidemic. Data from state-wide epidemiological profile indicates that the number of people living with HIV in the state has increased by a whopping 21%, from 19,037 as recorded in 2019 to 20,739 in 2018. The total number of newly diagnosed cases in the state was 650.

Previously as per the data from the state health profile formulated by the CDC in 2015, the total number of newly diagnosed cases in Massachusetts was 600. The state was ranked 19th among the 50 U.S states for having the highest newly diagnosed HIV cases.

The epidemiological profile of Massachusetts indicates that the number of new diagnoses of HIV infection relatively remained stable at 700 diagnoses per year right from 2009 to 2013. Then later on during 2014 to 2018, the average dropped to 641 cases per year. The report further indicated that HIV-related mortalities in the state were highest in 2009 with 319 mortalities and lowest in 2011 with 263 mortalities per year.

The average rate of HIV-related death per year from 2009 to 2018 was 291. The cities and towns in Massachusetts with highest numbers of persons living with HIV infection (PLWH) in 2018 includes Provincetown (16,528.3 per 100,000), Boston (856.9), Springfield (852.1), Chelsea (784.0), and Holyoke (775.6).

Another report from CDC indicates that about 11% of the people with HIV residing in Massachusetts are not aware of them being HIV positive, which means that 89% of the people have been tested and know their status. In line with the national goals for HIV, the health authorities are trying to bring up the numbers to at least 90% of the people aware of them being HIV positive.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis is a medicine taken orally to prevent HIV infection. The medicine is given to those who belong to high-risk groups or live in communities where the prevalence of the infection is more. As per the same data, during 2018, 8,195 adults and adolescents have prescribed the medicine. Furthermore, CDC report shows that approximately 47,181 tests were conducted in the state of those 102 people who were linked to primary medical care within 90 days of the diagnosis by CDC-funded programs.

Age, Gender and Ethnic Disparities

According to a report by AIDSVu, in 2018, 20,739 people were living with HIV in Massachusetts. Of the total number, 650 alone were newly diagnosed during the same year. The rate of people living with HIV in Massachusetts per 100,000 population was 349. Considering the total number of people living with HIV in the state, 70.7% were males, while 29.3% were females.

The same report indicated that of the total numbers of people living with the disease, White Americans population had a 39.9% share, followed by 29 % black Americans and 27 % individuals from Hispanic or Latin backgrounds. 42.4% of the cases were reported in the age group 55 years and above, 29.7% in ages 45 to 54 years, 15.5% in the age group 35 to 44 years, and 10.4% and 2.1% in the age group 25 to 34 and 13 to 24 respectively.

According to AIDSVu, in male categories, 63.6% of the transmission was due to male or gay sexual contact. 9.9% was transmitted due to heterosexual contact and 18.5% due to contaminated syringes. In females, the most popular transmission modes of the virus were heterosexual contact, 67.1%, followed by 29.7% due to the use of contaminated syringes.

State HIV initiatives

Massachusetts General Hospital, located in Boston, has a specialized HIV clinic that provides comprehensive and multidisciplinary care to individuals living with HIV in the state. This clinic provides counseling, awareness and preventive care, primary medical care, antiretroviral therapy, and case management for HIV-positive residents of the state. The clinic and some of the prestigious universities located in the state are also involved in the research and development of HIV vaccines.

TUFTS Medical Center is yet another center specialized in providing cutting-edge treatments to individuals with HIV. HIV is a disease that needs long-term or, in some cases, lifetime care, and TUFTS medical center is one of the places where patients have been coming for years to get HIV-related treatments.

UMass Memorial Health is a medical center that provides all the primary medical care to patients with HIV. The services also include counseling and nutritional programs for people living with HIV and medical treatments, including case management services. Care for women who have been diagnosed with HIV and are pregnant is also provided at the UMass Memorial Center.

Fenway Health is one of the country's most prominent HIV-specialized care providers. This organization is dedicated to providing primary medical care and counseling services for HIV-infected patients. The organization also provides antiretroviral therapy and side effects management services to those patients who require the treatment. Fenway health has financial assistance and health insurance programs for individuals belonging to low-income groups.

References

  • AIDSVu, 2020. Local Data: Massachusetts. aidsvu.org. Available at: https://aidsvu.org/local-data/united-states/northeast/massachusetts/
  • CDC, 2017. Massachusetts - 2015 state health profile - CDC. cdc.gov. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/stateprofiles/pdf/massachusetts_profile.pdf
  • Centers for Disease Control , 2019. CDC HIV Massachusetts Prep - . cdc.gov. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/policies/profiles/cdc-hiv-massachusetts-PrEP.pdf
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012. More than half of young HIV-infected Americans are not aware of their status. cdc.gov. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2012/vital-signs-pressrelease.html
  • DeLong, O. & Wilburn , D., 2021. Breaking the stigma: 13 essential facts about HIV/AIDS. Sharecare. Available at: https://www.sharecare.com/hiv-aids/breaking-stigma-essential-facts-hiv?cbr=ggle1500879
  • Department of Public Health, 2021. HIV/AIDS epidemiologic profiles. Mass.gov. Available at: https://www.mass.gov/lists/hivaids-epidemiologic-profiles
  • Fenway Health, 2021. Fenway Health: Health Care Is A Right, Not A Privilege. fenwayhealth.org. Available at: https://fenwayhealth.org/care/wellness-resources/hiv-resources/
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, 2021. HIV/AIDS infection care & treatment program. massgeneral.org. Available at: https://www.massgeneral.org/medicine/infectious-diseases/treatments-and-programs/hiv-aids-infection-care-and-treatment-program
  • Tufts Medical Center, 2021. HIV/AIDS clinic in Boston. tuftsmedicalcenter.org. Available at: https://www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org/patient-care-services/departments-and-services/infectious-disease/clinical-care-services/hiv-clinic
  • UMass Memorial Health, 2021. HIV and AIDS. ummhealth.org. Available at: https://www.ummhealth.org/umass-memorial-medical-center/services-treatments/infectious-diseases/services-we-provide/hiv-and-aids
Reviewed by Debby R, MD. Last updated on Jan 13, 2022

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