Free HIV Testing in Tennessee

Free and low-cost testing locations near you.

Tennessee lies in the southeastern region of the United States. According to the census data, the state is the 16th most populated state with a population of approximately 6.9 million. Tennessee is the 36th largest state of the 50 states in terms of area. Tennessee is famous globally for energy systems and research and is also known as the world's energy capital.

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Why Testing Matters?

HIV, over time, has become a significant cause of concern for health authorities across the globe. Ever since the first report of HIV in the United States in 1981, there have been more than 700,000 HIV related deaths in the country. According to recently released data, 1.2 million people from different parts of the country live with HIV. Despite the health authorities' efforts in trying to spread awareness and reduce the number of newly diagnosed cases, the recorded cases of HIV each year remain steady at 35,000 diagnosed cases per year.

HIV can affect anyone, but from the data, it is evident that HIV disproportionately affects only specific populations of certain races, ethnic minorities, bisexual or gay men, individuals who have multiple sex partners and transgender. Therefore it is essential that every sexually active individual, women of childbearing age, transgender individuals, and those with multiple partners should get tested for HIV and other reportable sexually transmitted diseases.

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HIV in Tennessee

According to the Centers for Diseases Control, CDC, 2015 the total number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in 2015 was 712, making the state rank at 16th of the 50 U.S states for having the highest numbers of HIV. Moreover, as per the findings of a news source, recently, there has been a slight upward trend in the newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Tennessee. Most of the newly diagnosed cases were reported in individuals using some injectable drugs. Health authorities across the states have come up with various initiatives to help reduce the stigma around the disease and the frequency of occurrence of the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.

As per another report by the CDC, the total number of people living with HIV in the state was 20,000. Approximately 660 individuals, both adults and adolescents, were newly diagnosed with HIV in the state. The same report indicated that around 86% of the residents with HIV are fully aware of them having the disease, which means a good percentage of 14% of people with HIV are not getting the primary medical care for HIV.

Data from the Tennessee government records indicate that Black or African Americans were disproportionately affected by the disease. The rate per 100,000 persons for non-Hispanic or black individuals was 507.6, while 101.1 for Hispanic whites, 106.5 for non-Hispanic and other races and 39 per 100,000 population of non-Hispanic whites.

Memphis and Nashville are the two largest areas of Tennessee state, where most cases come from. Around 60% of the new cases come from these two cities combined. Considering Memphis, 88% of the new infections are among African Americans, while in Nashville, 54% of the newly diagnosed cases come from individuals with African American backgrounds.

Age, Race, Gender and Ethnic Disparities

According to the data from AidsVu, the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Tennessee were 17,667, while the rate of HIV per 100,000 population was 307. Considering the data from the same report, 75.2% of the HIV positive individuals were males while 24.8% were females.

The report indicated that HIV disproportionately affected the black American population. Out of the total number of people living with HIV, 54.7% were Black Americans, 34.7% were White Americans, and only 5.9% belonged to Hispanic or Latin background.

Considering the age-wise breakdown, most of the HIV positive individuals were 55 years or above (30%), 27.4% of the total people living with HIV were between age group 45 to 54 years, 20.7% between 35 to 44 years, while 18.2% and 3.7% belonged to ages 25 to 34 years and 13 to 24 years respectively.

The same data indicates that during 2019 the total number of HIV related deaths were 307, while the rate of death per 100,000 population in 2019 was 5. Most of the HIV related mortalities were males; 73.3% and 26.7% were female HIV positive residents of Tennessee.

In males, the most popular transmission modes of the virus were male to male or gay sexual contact, 77.5%, while 11.2% of the reported cases were due to heterosexual contact. In females, the most common transmission mode was heterosexual contact (84.2%), while 13.4% of the cases were reported due to contaminated syringe use. Injection or contaminated syringe use accounted for 5% of the cases in male residents.

HIV Initiatives in Tennessee

Tennessee Department of Health has HIV and STD programs with a primary responsibility of implementing strategies related to the disease using various agencies across the state. ON ITS MISSION, Tennessee HIV Prevention and Care reduces the number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in the state and improve the living conditions for people with HIV has specialized programs that look after all the HIV related issues in the state. These programs also look after allocating Ryan White Part B funds to the agencies for treatment and other HIV related services.

Nashville Cares, founded in 1985, is one of the oldest HIV service organizations in the state. The organization currently provides services to 50,000 people annually in 17 counties statewide. The services include confidential and free HIV testing, educational programs, medical services, and housing and financial assistance programs for residents of Tennessee with HIV.

Street Works is yet another HIV related initiative in the state. The main aim of this organization is to provide services such as counselling, testing, medical case management, housing, and psychosocial services to people with HIV. There are several programs such as prevention and education, syringe services, and early intervention services to help HIV positive residents of the state.

Nashville Regional HIV Planning Council help in connecting the uninsured or underinsured HIV positive residents of the state to the much-needed services. Along with the financial assistance, this initiative also provides Dental care services, early intervention, financial assistance, HIV/AIDS medication, case management services, mental health services, and housing assistance services to the HIV positive individuals of Tennessee.


  • AIDSVu, 2020. Tennessee. AIDSVu. Available at:
  • Anon, 2020. Home- Nashville Cares. Nashville CARES. Available at:
  • Anon, 2021. Street Works- Home. Streetworks. Available at:
  • CDC, 2017. Tennessee - 2015 state health profile. Available at:
  • CDC, 2018. CDC HIV Tennessee - HIV Prevention. Available at:
  • Hill, P., 2021. East Tennessee sees an increase in HIV cases among those who inject drugs. Available at:
  • KFF, 2021. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States: The basics. Available at:
  • NashPRC, 2021. Home- Nashville Regional HIV Planning Council. Nashville Regional HIV Planning Council. Available at:
  • TN Gov, 2018. HIV surveillance reports. Tennessee State Government - Available at:
  • TN GOV, 2021. United Way. Tennessee HIV AIDS Prevention & Care. Available at:
  • US Census Bureau, 2020. U.S. Census Bureau quickfacts: Tennessee. Available at:
  • Wester, C., 2020. TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at:
Reviewed by Debby R, MD. Last updated on Jan 13, 2022