Well known for its rocky and jagged coastlines, Maine is the 12th smallest state in area and the 9th least populated of all U.S states. During the last few decades, the HIV epidemic has affected almost all parts of the country and has found its way to this small state. However, the numbers of HIV-positive patients in Maine are still considerably low. Considering the data from the Centers of Disease and Control (CDC) Maine ranked 42nd among the 50 states of the USA regarding the numbers of newly diagnosed HIV cases in 2015.
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Knowing the devastating effects and the fast spread of the infection, it is crucial for everyone to know about their HIV status. Data from CDC indicates that around 85% of people living with HIV know about their infection, while around 15% of the HIV-positive population is completely unaware of them being HIV positive.
The same data indicates that 40% of the new infections have been coming from the 15% who aren't aware of their HIV status, and almost half of the people who have been diagnosed with HIV have had the infection for more than three years.
Antiretroviral drugs – Drugs used to suppress the activity of HIV in the human body can enable a person with HIV to live every day and healthy life. HIV is not curable, however with the timely diagnosis and the timely initiation of the treatment, the risk of the infection to further progress to AIDS (the final and life-threatening phase of HIV) is highly reduced. The only condition is timely diagnosis.
To minimize the adverse effects of HIV infection, CDC recommends testing for all the residents of the U.S. once during their lifetime. In people living in HIV-populated areas, gay or bisexual men, those with more than one sexual partner, and individuals who regularly use injectable drugs, it is advised to have HIV screening once every year as a part of their routine checkup.
According to CDC during the year 2015, an estimated number of 39,393 people were newly diagnosed with the disease throughout the country. Considering the statistics of Maine, 45 adults and adolescents were newly diagnosed with HIV in Maine, making the state rank at 42nd of the 50 U.S. States.
There has been a downward trend in the number of newly diagnosed cases statewide. A report from AIDSVu indicates that during 2018 only 30 people were newly diagnosed with HIV, while the total number of people living with HIV in the state was 1,608.
Numbers from the State of Maine HIV/AIDS epidemiological profile, 2015, suggest that approximately one-third of all the HIV-positive residents of Maine lived in Cumberland public health district during their diagnosis. Of the newly diagnosed causes, 58% of individuals belonged to Cumberland.
The same report shows that around 3 percent of the population of this state were reported to be engaged in some HIV risk behaviors such as intravenous drug use, having unprotected sexual contact in 12 months before the survey.
Comparing the data from 2015 and 2018, the number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV has somehow reduced. According to a report by AIDSVu, the total number of people living with HIV in Maine in 2018 was 1608. While the rate of people living with HIV, per a population of 100,000, was 138. Around 79.3% of the people living with HIV, reportedly, were males, while 20.7% of the HIV-positive population were females. Considering the ethnicity, White Americans made up 72.8 percent of people living with HIV, followed by 16.4% black or African Americans, and 7.1 of the individuals belonged to Hispanic or Latin backgrounds.
In Maine, 45.3% of the individuals living with HIV were 55 years or above, 29.2% were aged 44 to 55 years, and 16.3% belonged to 35 to 44. 7.5% of the total HIV-positive population was young adults aged 25 to 34 years, while 1.7% was 13 to 24 years of age.
According to AIDSVu, the total number of AIDS-related mortalities during the year 2018 was 21. The rate of HIV-related death per 100,000 population was 2. 90.5 % of the mortalities were HIV-positive men, while 9.5% of the female mortalities were reported.
Furthermore, it is observed that in males, the mode of transmission of HIV mainly was male to male or gay sexual contact (76.9%), 7.1% of the male transmission cases were reported due to heterosexual contact, while 8.7% were due to contaminated injection use. In females, 71.8% of the transmission was due to heterosexual contact, and 24.6 % contaminated injection use.
There are some federal initiatives to eradicate HIV and improve the living conditions of people living with HIV in almost all U.S. states. Ryan White Part B is one such initiative that provides funding to the local organizations that work towards the provision of HIV care, prevention plans, and spreading awareness. The government of Maine has also come up with a few promising initiatives to support the cause.
Frannie Peabody Center provides a range of services to cater to HIV patients at various stages. The organization provides case management services for the patients that include providing the necessary linkage of medical insurance to uninsured or underinsured individuals.
Frannie Peabody Center also provides counseling and mental health services to HIV patients, and in collaboration with federal organizations, housing for people living with HIV/AIDS is also provided. This organization also gives free testing services for HIV, syphilis, Hepatitis C, and other forms of STDs. Frannie Peabody Center also carries out spreading awareness to the general public and distribution of free condoms.
Health Equity Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides direct services and advocacy with and on behalf of residents of Maine living with HIV. the most affected communities are LGBTQ+ and people of color. The primary mission of this organization is to reduce the health disparities such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and AIDS-related mortalities. Health Equality Alliance, Maine, provides health insurance services, case management services, treatment options, and free screening for HIV and syringe exchange services.
Maine Family Planning services provides free testing for HIV at as many as 18 locations throughout the state. Together with the testing services, this organization also conducts consultative sessions with the people at risk of HIV and makes pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP accessible to all the state residents.