Free HIV Testing in Rhode Island

Free and low-cost testing locations near you.

Unlike its name, Rhode Island has most of its area on the mainlands. Rhode Island, located in the New England region of the United States, is the smallest U.S. state in its area. According to the census data of 2020, Rhode Island is the second-most densely populated state after New Jersey. Like the other parts of the world and the United States, the HIV epidemic has also hit Rhode Island.

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Why Testing Matters?

HIV first found its way to the United States in the 1970s, and it spread pretty fast across all the states. Due to the fast spread and the life-threatening effects, health care authorities declared HIV a nationwide epidemic.

Getting tested and knowing about one's HIV status is essential for individual health, relationships, and the overall future. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), today, more than 1.2 million people have been infected with HIV. Every one in seven HIV-positive individuals is not aware of their HIV status. CDC data indicates that undiagnosed individuals are responsible for almost 50% of the newly diagnosed cases in the U.S.

While HIV is not curable, it is pretty much preventable. With the proper knowledge and education about the disease, preventive measures could be adapted. Early diagnosis and timely treatment of HIV can result in better outcomes for the patient; early treatment enables the HIV-positive individual to spend a healthy life and saves the infection from further progressing to AIDS. Due to the advancements in the treatment options nowadays, individuals can lead everyday and longer lives.

Considering the HIV numbers, it is observed that gay or bisexual men, individuals who have more than one sexual partner, and individuals who use injectable drugs are at a high risk of contracting the virus. CDC, therefore, recommends testing for HIV once every year for individuals belonging to the risk groups or residing in HIV-populated areas. For the rest of the country's residents, CDC recommends testing for HIV at least once in a lifetime.

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HIV Statistics in Rhode Island

According to the State Health Profile by the CDC in 2016, an estimated number of 64 adults and adolescents were newly diagnosed with HIV. Considering the numbers of HIV, CDC has ranked Rhode Island as 41st among the 50 U.S. states. According to another report by AIDS Vu, the total number of people living with HIV in Rhode Island in 2018 was 2597. There was also a slightly upward trend observed in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases as the number climbed from 64 in 2015 to 75 in 2018.

According to the latest data, over 3000 adults and adolescents in Rhode Island live with HIV. The numbers have slightly climbed up as previously according to the report from AIDSVu in 2018; there were a total of 2597 people living with HIV. In 2015, 64 individuals were newly diagnosed with HIV, while in 2018, the number of newly diagnosed HIV patients reached 75.

The state’s HIV surveillance data, 2019 indicates that the numbers of newly diagnosed cases have considerably reduced during the last decade; however there was a slight increase between 2015 to 2018. In 2019 the numbers of newly diagnosed HIV patients followed a similar pattern as 2018. By the start end of 2018 the numbers of new diagnosis in residents of Rhode Island had slowly climbed to 2674. 91% of the HIV/AIDS cases were reported in individuals of ages 30 to 50 years while most of the HIV diagnosis is make residents of Rhode Island.

Age, Gender and Ethnic Disparities

AIDSVu reports that during the year 2018, there were a total of 2597 people living with HIV in Rhode Island. The rate of people living with HIV in the state per 100,000 populations was 284. 73.1% of the total population was males, while 26.9% were females.

Considering the race and ethnicities, the prevalence of the virus was higher in White Americans. White Americans made up 43.9% of the HIV population, while 28.2% were Hispanic or Latino. 23 % of the people living with HIV in Rhode Island were African or Black Americans.

According to the same report, 38.9% of the people living with HIV belonged to the age group 44 to 55 years and above. 30.8% were aged between 45 to 54 years, while 16.8% percent were between the ages 35 to 44. Around 13% of the people living with HIV were young adults and adolescents aged 13 to 34 years. According to HIV surveillance data, 2019 there was a 50% increase in HIV cases of individual’s aged between 20 to 39.

The total number of deaths reported due to HIV/AIDS during 2018 was 40. The rate of HIV-related mortalities per 100,000 population was 4. 70% of the HIV-related deaths were reported in males while 30% were reported in female residents of Rhode Island.

Furthermore, in male population the HIV rates were relatively higher because male to male sexual contact was responsible for 64.1% of the spread whereas 14.3% cases were reported due to contaminated injection use. Heterosexual contact in the male category was responsible for 12.8% of the spread. In females, the most popular transmission mode of the virus was heterosexual contact, which accounted for 67% of the spread. 29% of the transmission of the virus in females were reported due to injection or drug use.

HIV Initiatives in Rhode Island

Apart from the active federal initiatives like the Ryan White Part B that provides funding to various organizations working towards eliminating the disparities and improving the living conditions of individuals with HIV, Rhode Island has some state-level organizations working for the exact cause.

Life Span is one such organization that provides HIV-related testing and care services to the residents of Rhode Island. Life Span Center is currently providing care to 1500 patients with HIV. More services of this center include comprehensive case management, linkages to the medical insurance providers to help the uninsured or the underinsured. More than 70 percent of people living with HIV in the state are connected with the center's primary medical care.

AIDS project is yet another initiative that provides services like testing for HIV prevention and the necessary education to the general public about the infection. A part of this project provides free condoms and PrEP and emergency treatment and financial assistance programs. This project also assists individuals living with HIV in finding decent housing options and provides legal services and referrals if needed.

AIDS Care Ocean State, in collaboration with the Ryan White Part B, uses the funding for HIV/AIDS for providing treatment, comprehensive case management, housing, and other support services like medical insurance to HIV-positive patients. The main goal of this initiative is to provide HIV care services to everyone regardless of their ability to pay for it or not.


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