Free HIV Testing in North Dakota

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Owing to the widespread and devastating effects, HIV has been declared an epidemic across the globe. Since the first reported case of HIV/AIDS in the United States in 1981, the countries' healthcare system has been fighting to reduce the number of cases. But the good news is that with the development of newer technologies, advancements in medicine, and public awareness about the virus, healthy and normal life has been made possible for HIV patients.

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According to the data shared by the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, a total number of 39,393 individuals, both adults, and adolescents had been diagnosed with HIV in 2015. Like the rest of the states, North Dakota has been affected by the virus. State health profile by CDC shows that in 2015 a total of 22 individuals were newly diagnosed with HIV in North Dakota. According to the same report, North Dakota has been ranked 46th among the 50 U.S. states for having the highest HIV diagnoses during 2015.

Why Does Testing Matter?

Decades ago, when HIV was first discovered, the disease ended up in AIDS that ultimately caused death to the patients. But today, with technological advancements, newer treatment methods have been devised that curbs the spread of the virus and enables the patient to live a healthy and everyday life with fewer or no complications. That is one reason why the health authorities have emphasized the benefits of testing and early diagnosis. A lot of damage can be prevented if the virus is found in the earlier stages.

CDC data shows that one out of every seven HIV-positive patients is unaware of HIV status. The same data indicates that out of the total newly diagnosed cases, approximately 40 percent of the virus is spread from individuals who aren't aware of them being HIV positive. The virus s very easily transmissible, and once the person has contracted the virus, it will take a while before the symptoms show, which means it is a silent killer. This virus's most popular transmission modes are unprotected male-to-male sexual contact or sexual contact with an infected individual and using a contaminated syringe.

Therefore, it is recommended that all individuals should be tested for HIV at least once during their lifetime. Those belonging to risk groups or areas where the prevalence of the virus should include HIV testing as a part of their annual medical routine. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should also be tested to pass the virus to the developing fetus or through breast milk. Treatment methods of the virus include taking antiretroviral drugs.

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HIV in North Dakota

North Dakota lies in the upper Midwest region of the United States and is the nineteenth largest state in terms of area and the fourth-least populated state. According to the census data 2019, the total population of North Dakota is 780,000. According to CDC, there were a total of 22 newly diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS in North Dakota in 2015, making the State rank at 46th among the 50 U.S. States. The numbers of new diagnoses have shown a steady rise over the years.

On the other hand AIDSVu reported that the total number of newly diagnosed cases in 2018 in North Dakota was 36. The same report indicated that 447 people were living with HIV/AIDS in 2018 in the state.

A recent news report from Grand Forks Herald indicates that the total number of people living with the virus in North Dakota was 457. According to the new source, North Dakota has the 15th lowest rate of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the country. Looking at the data from the source in 2017, the rate of new diagnosis per 100,000 residents was 4.8.

The epidemiological profile of North Dakota HIV rates in the annual surveillance report 2019-2020 shows that during 2019 there were a total of 87 reported cases of HIV /AIDS in the state. Towards the end of 2019, a total of 479 people were living with HIV/AIDS in North Dakota.

HIV Initiatives in North Dakota

North Dakota Department of Health has a specialized HIV/AIDS program that receives funding from CDC to record the newly diagnosed cases. The program also works to reduce the spread of the virus by decreasing risky behaviors that include unprotected sexual contact, sharing syringes, tattooing, and body piercing. A part of the program provides financial and treatment assistance to uninsured, underinsured, or people from low-income families.

Greater than AIDS is yet another organization working in North Dakota to provide a minimum set of healthcare benefits to low-income individuals with HIV/AIDS. These services include medical treatment, hospital care, counseling, and support services. The program also provides certain preventive services that include HIV testing and PrEP.

Ryan White Part B and AIDS Drugs Assistance programs are two federal programs that, along with all the other states, also work in North Dakota to facilitate the HIV-positive residents of the state in getting their treatment and other financial and housing support services. Ryan White Part B provides funding to various state agencies for further proving their services.

Age, Gender and Ethnic Disparities

According to the Epidemiological profile of North Dakota, the prevalence of HIV is more in male residents of the state in comparison to females. Out of the 479 individuals living with HIV in North Dakota in 2019, 331 were males, and 148 were females. The average age of HIV-positive individuals was 44 years. Out of the total 53 counties of the state, at least one person is HIV positive in at least 35 counties.

The surveillance report further revealed that Black/African American North Dakotans were 13 times more likely to be living with HIV than their white counterparts. However, HIV prevalence considering the newly diagnosed cases was found more in white Americans than black Americans considering the newly diagnosed cases.

HIV cases have been reported more in males having sexual contact with other males. Of the total newly diagnosed cases of HIV in North Dakota, 14 were gay males, 11 heterosexual males, and two reported contractions of the virus using contaminated needles. In females, the most popular transmission modes of the virus were through heterosexual contact with an individual already affected with HIV.

References

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

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