Free HIV Testing in Maryland

Free and low-cost testing locations near you.

Maryland State is located in the mid-Atlantic region, having borders with Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Maryland is known for its abundant waterways, coastlines on the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Baltimore, a major seaport, is its largest city. Maryland stands as the 19th most populous state in the United States, with a total population of 6 million as recorded in the year 2019.

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There are five large ethnic groups that reside in various parts of Maryland. According to the Census data, the largest ethnic group is that of Non-Hispanic Whites, which makes 58.5 %, followed by Black Americans or African Americans (31.1%). Other ethnic groups in the State of Maryland are Non-Hispanic Asians (6.24%) and other groups of Hispanic backgrounds (10.6%). Considering the HIV Statistics, Maryland ranks 6th state having the highest number of active HIV cases in the country.

Why Testing Matters?

According to the Maryland Department of Health and Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), Maryland has been ranked as the 6th highest in estimated active HIV cases in the year 2018. During the year 2019, Baltimore City and Prince George County had the highest rates of new cases. The total number of newly diagnosed HIV cases was 931, out of which the majority, 74%, were black or African-American residents. About 11% of the total newly diagnosed cases were Non-Hispanic Whites, and 2% accounted for the other ethnic groups present in the State.

Maryland Department of Health states that around 10.8% of the people living with HIV (PLWH) are still undiagnosed. Owing to the rise in HIV cases, the CDC recommends all the individuals living in HIV populated areas to get tested at least once a year. There are numerous ways the virus spreads, and it is essential to get tested if the locality or the community of residence has HIV active cases. Individuals belonging to the age group 13 to 64 years should at least get tested once in their lifetime.

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Initiatives to prevent HIV in Maryland

Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA), an agency of the US Department of Health located in North Bethesda, Maryland, functions to improve the healthcare services in the State. The agency primarily targets the vulnerable, uninsured, and medically isolated patients and works to facilitate them.

HRSA has been working in the state for the last two decades for the eradication of HIV. In line with the National HIV/AIDS strategy, the four basic goals of HRSA for the year 2020 were to reduce new HIV infections, easy access, and improvement in healthcare services for people living with HIV. Reduction in HIV related health disparities and health inequalities and ensuring a more coordinated response for the HIV epidemic are part of the HRSA HIV goals for 2020.

HRSA is further working to reduce the HIV rates by at least 25% in the state and encourage as well as increase the testing capacity. Maryland and Baltimore have significantly improved new diagnosis services. Reduction of disparities is still a challenge, though.

The Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School Of Medicine has initiated a program called the JACQUES Initiative. JACQUES initiative works towards supporting the most vulnerable individuals living with the virus. Under this initiative, efforts are made to minimize the stigma related to HIV and overcoming the health disparities. JACQUES initiative is focused on the holistic care approach by involving individuals from all walks of life through a journey of wellness.

Along with the stated initiatives, the State of Maryland receives grants for the medical services under the Ryan White Part b program that runs in almost all states of the country. The funds received through the Ryan White Part B program are also used for creating awareness among the general public. The awareness and educational sessions are mostly based on enlightening the public about the benefits of early testing and diagnosis as well as the measures to be taken for preventing the spread of the virus.

HIV in Maryland

As per the US Census Bureau, the total population of Maryland State in 2019 was over 6 million. Of the total population, the largest population is that of non-Hispanic White Americans (58.5%). The second-largest ethnic groups of Maryland are African Americans (31.1%). Minority groups in Maryland include the Non-Hispanic Asians as well as the Hispanic whites and other small minority groups.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, during the year 2019, a total of 931 HIV diagnoses were made. Of the total number, the largest percentage was that of the Black Americans. In 2018, the total headcount of people living with HIV in Maryland was 33,194. During the same year, 996 people were newly diagnosed with the virus.

Age, Gender, and Ethnic Disparities

According to the AidsVU Survey document, in 2018, the total number of HIV active cases in Maryland was 33,194. Of the total number, 65.9% were males, while 34.1 % were females. African Americans still accounted for the largest percentage of the total diagnosis, i.e., 71.1 %. Individuals with Latin and White backgrounds followed at 7.1 and 12.7%, respectively.

The majority of the cases were that of individuals belonging to the age group 45+ (36.5%). 27.5% of the total diagnosis belonged to 35-44, 18.1% belonged to 25-34 years. Around 17 % of cases were that of young adults age 13 to 24 years. The rate of black Americans living with HIV was 8.1 times that of white males. The data of the year 2018 showed that the rate of Black American females living with the virus was 17.3 times that of white females. It is evident that Black Americans were still the bigger health disparity group considering HIV.

The prevalence of HIV in Maryland is more in Gay or bisexual males, transgender females, young adults who inject drugs, and black females who most commonly contract the virus through sexual contact.

The rates of HIV in Maryland dropped to an all-time low of the last 30 years in 2018. While the stats show the downward trend of a new diagnosis, the black population has still been disproportionately affected. Reports from the Maryland Department of Health have shown that the prevalence of the virus was three to ten times more in the non-Hispanic Black Americans as compared to their Hispanic or White counterparts. The report further states the probability of death for Black Americans having HIV in Maryland was five times higher than any other ethnic group.

References

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

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