Free HIV Testing in Ohio

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In the US state of Ohio, around 1,000 new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections were detected in 2016. The number has remained consistent over the years since, in 1997, the same number of people were diagnosed with HIV. From 1997 onwards, the number of HIV infections in Ohio increased annually. Compared to over 8,000 Ohioans living with HIV in 1997, the number has now risen to over 23,000 people living with HIV, as per 2017-2018 statistics.

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Why Testing Matters?

Believe it or not, contrary to popular perception, HIV infection is a preventable disease. Anyone from sexually active individuals, which are in large numbers, to those who inject drugs, are susceptible to getting infected with HIV. But, no matter which category of individuals it is, everyone can prevent infection simply by choosing to be aware of their sexual health status.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, HIV cure wasn’t available, but there are prevention tools available today. Such as there is a pill that’s widely available now and can effectively prevent HIV. Known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, it is like a birth control pill is for married women. This medication is highly effective in preventing HIV if an individual is exposed to the virus.

Another incredibly effective way to prevent and cure HIV is knowing whether you or your partner has HIV. Because even if your partner is or has been exposed to the virus at some point in life, they can make you susceptible to contracting the virus. Remember that prevention is better than cure. Regular screening is necessary to diagnose HIV at the right time and start HIV medication to prevent you from transmitting the virus.

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HIV Statistics in Ohio

Ohio reported around 973 new HIV cases in 2019, according to the recent statistics shared by the Ohio department of health in its HIV surveillance report. However, in 2017, the number of new diagnoses in Ohio was 982. As of December 2019, around 24,558 people lived with diagnosed HIV in Ohio, and over half were living with HIV only. This means they haven’t yet progressed to AIDS.

Moreover, under half of these individuals have already developed AIDS. People aged 50-54 years reported the highest rate of people living with diagnosed HIV at a rate of 485.4 cases per 100,000 people. 55% of all new infections were reported among people living in Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton counties with 16%, 22%, and 17% of all statewide diagnoses, respectively. In Cuyahoga County, around 37% of all new infections were reported among people under 24 years of age.

According to data shared by AIDSVu, in 2018, around 22,418 people were living with HIV in the state, and around 977 were newly diagnosed with HIV. On the other hand, the rate of people living with HIV per 100,000 persons was 228 in 2018.

Age, Gender, and Ethnic Disparities

Around 80% of the 973 new diagnoses made in 2019 and reported in the HIV surveillance report from the Ohio department were reported among males, and close to 48% were diagnosed among African-Americans. This indicates that the rate of new diagnoses was at least seven times higher in blacks than whites. Around half of the new diagnoses were reported among people aged 20-34 years. Furthermore, in 2019, male to male sexual contact and heterosexual contact were the two most widespread transmission categories as roughly 58% and 68% of all new diagnoses were caused due to these. It is worth noting that whites and black races make up around 44% of people living with diagnosed HIV in the state. However, the rate for the black race was around six times higher than whites.

According to AIDSVu, in 2018, among people living with HIV in Ohio, 79% were males, and 21% were females. Ethnicity-wise, whites and blacks had the largest share of people living with HIV with 43.7% and 43.5% of all cases, followed by Hispanics with 7.1% cases. Age-wise, the most impacted group was people above 55 years of age with 31.4%, followed by the 45-54 age group with over 27%, and the third most impacted group was 35-44 years olds with over 18% of all cases.

In 2019, 756 males and 195 females were diagnosed with HIV in Ohio, while 22 cases were reported in transgender people. African-American males reported the largest share of new diagnoses with over 53% of all new cases, followed by Hispanic males who reported over 20% of all new diagnoses.

State Initiatives

The HIV Surveillance Program systematically collects, analyzes, interprets, and disseminate population-based data about people diagnosed and living with HIV/AIDS in Ohio. Under this program, active and passive surveillance is performed in collaboration with hospitals, healthcare providers, and laboratories to monitor trends of the HIV epidemic and examine the burden of disease among impacted populations. This program is also responsible for assessing the burden of AIDS in Ohio. The primary goals this program aims to achieve is identifying trends in the HIV epidemic, investigating HIV transmission modes, evaluating the state’s HIV surveillance system, maintaining a confidential and secure database, and disseminating quality surveillance data.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) uses funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to tactically partner with HIV healthcare providers, local public health departments, and community service agencies in the three most impacted Ohio counties as identified by the CDC, Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton. This funding aims to plan and implement localized activities and support the End the HIV Epidemic (EtHE) Plan launched by the federal government.

End the HIV Epidemic’s goal is to reduce the rate of new HIV infections by at least 90% by 2030 by implementing strategies related to the initiative’s four pillars, diagnose, treat, prevent, and respond. In 2019, the federal government announced the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative to end the disease. In the first phase of EtHE, 57 US jurisdictions will be targeted for funding the planning and preventing services. These are the regions where the burden of the disease is the highest.

References

  • AIDSVu, 2021. View local HIV data for the state of Ohio on aidsvu. aidsvu.org. Available at: https://aidsvu.org/local-data/united-states/midwest/ohio/
  • Federman, M., 2018. 982 Ohioans were diagnosed with HIV last year. this number could be zero. The Center for Community Solutions. Available at: https://www.communitysolutions.com/982-ohioans-diagnosed-hiv-last-year-number-zero/
  • Healthy People, 2020. HIV. healthypeople.gov. Available at: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/hiv
  • ODH, 2020. Explore Data & Stats. odh.ohio.gov. Available at: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/explore-data-and-stats
  • ODH, 2020. Plan to end the HIV epidemic - community solutions. communitysolutions.com. Available at: https://www.communitysolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Central-Ohio-EHE-Plan.pdf
  • ODH, 2021. Data and statistics. odh.ohio.gov. Available at: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/know-our-programs/hiv-aids-surveillance-program/Data-and-Statistics/
Reviewed by Debby R, MD. Last updated on Jan 13, 2022

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