Free HIV Testing in Virginia

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The US state of Virginia is divided into five health regions, including Central, Eastern, Northern. Southwest, and Northwest. In 2019, the state ranked 13th in the number of new HIV diagnoses per year in the USA and had 18th highest rate of HIV infections in the country. The diagnosis rate was the highest in the Central and Eastern regions at 13 and 16 cases reported per 100,000 population. On the other hand, the lowest diagnosis rate was identified in the Northwest and Southwest regions at around 5 and 4 cases detected per 100,000 population.

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Why Testing Matters?

Testing is the key to controlling and preventing the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Virginia residents must male HIV testing a mandatory part of their annual health checkup since the state has been recoding relatively high rates of infection in the past five years.

In fact, nationwide there has been an upsurge in the prevalence of HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were over 36,390 new HIV diagnoses in the USA in 2019. However, between 2015 and 2019, the number new diagnoses in the country dropped by 9%, this decline could be attributed to a rise in HIV testing and targeted HIV prevention efforts.

But in some population groups, new HIV diagnoses rates have increased, which is an alarming situation. Particularly at-risk are men who have sex with men (MSM), which accounted for 69% of all new diagnoses nationally in 2019, followed by young adults and adults aged 20-34 years. This was the most impacted group of population. Among MSM, the rate of new HIV diagnoses was the highest among people aged 55+. Moreover, an increase in injection drug use was observed during 2015-2019, which further intensified the already expanding HIV.

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HIV Statistics in Virginia

Between 2010 and 2019, new HIV diagnoses rate in Virginia dropped by 18%. As of December 31, 2019, around 333 residents of the state per 100,000 population were living with HIV. This indicates that a higher number of people are now living with the disease as during this period the number of people with HIV increased by 29%. There were over 23,600 people were living with HIV in the state in 2019 and 822 people were newly diagnosed with the virus.

As per the VIRGINIA HIV EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFILE 2019 approximately 45% of the HIV-positive population was diagnosed with an AIDS-defining condition and around 58% people living with HIV in Virginia were African-Americans. About 28% were non-Hispanic Whites and 9% of those living with HIV were Hispanics.

As of December 31, 2019, according to the Virginia state health department’s HIV surveillance data, there were 19,349 males at a rate of 461 per 100,000 and 6,4495 females at a rate of 150 per 100,000 living with HIV in the state, which indicates male represented 75% of all HIV-positive population.

In Virginia, males are around three times more likely to be living with HIV than females. Furthermore, between 2010 and 2019, male-to-male sexual contact (MSM) reportedly increased by 65 to 69% in Virginia and heterosexual contact dropped slightly, from 27% in 2010 to 24% in 2019.

Age, Gender, and Ethnic Disparities

On average, approximately 933 new HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in Virginia in 2019 were among males. However, according to the state’s HIV Epidemiology Profile 2019, the rates of new diagnoses among men significantly decreased between 2010 and 2019. In 2010 this rate was 20 cases/100,000 people whereas in 2019 it has come down to 16 cases/100,000 population. similarly, rates of new diagnoses among females declined from 6/100,000 people in 2010 to 4 cases/100,000 people in 2019. Still, as per 2019 statistics, males were four times more vulnerable to HIV than females in Virginia.

As far as demographic trends are concerned, new HIV diagnoses rates were higher among 25-34 age group in 2019 as this group recoded 26 cases per 100,000 people. Conversely, rates among 35-44 and 45-54 age groups declined considerably between 2010 and 2019 as from 22 and 14 cases/100,000 in 2010 the state reported 15 and 9 cases per 100,000 people in 2019.

Males aged 25-34 showed the highest rate of diagnoses in Virginia in 2019 followed by the 15-24 age group as these groups reported 43 and 27 cases/100,000 people, respectively. Regarding females, the most impacted age group was females aged 25-34 and 35-44 as these groups reported 9 and 7 cases per 100,000 people, respectively.

Around 63% of new HIV diagnoses in 2019 were in Black population and the second most affected race was non-Hispanic white with 23% of all reported new diagnoses. Hispanic/Latino accounted for 10% of all HIV cases. Between 2010 and 2019, 59% of all new HIV cases were among Black population and this race was 9 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white people. Black females were 12 times more likely to contract HIV than their white counterparts.

State Initiatives

For monitoring the HIV epidemic surveillance data is critical as it helps analyze infection trends and offers accurate directions for planning, policy development, evaluation and resource allocation. The Virginia HIV Surveillance Program performs all these tasks and plays a crucial role in disease prevention and care programs. The program focuses on collecting HIV-related data through passive and active activities mandated via the Code of Virginia.

HIV Case Surveillance program collects required data regarding people living with HIV, and encourages healthcare providers and laboratories throughout Virginia for performing HIV reporting. The HIV Surveillance Program is a part of the NHSS (National HIV Surveillance System).

HIV Cluster Detection and Response (CDR) is responsible for collecting HIV laboratory data into surveillance activities, assess disease prevalence/trends in transmitted/acquired HIV drug resistance, analyze HIV genetic diversity, and explain transmission patterns. CDR program is developed by the Centers for Disease Control to understand and curb the spread of HIV. The program utilizes HIV laboratory data to identify related HIV infection groups, known as clusters, which is critical to end the HIV epidemic since HIV spreads at a faster rate in these groups. After the individuals in these groups are detected, health departments are notified so that they could focus treatment and prevention efforts.

Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) is a demographic-related project. It is designed to examine medical care and treatment people living with HIV are receiving as well as their behavior patterns and health outcomes. MMP is conducted by the Virginia Department of Health in collaboration with the CDC.

References

  • AIDSVu, 2020. Virginia. AIDSVu. Available at: https://aidsvu.org/local-data/united-states/south/virginia/
  • Anon, 2022. Epidemiology of HIV. hiv.uw.edu. Available at: https://www.hiv.uw.edu/pdf/screening-diagnosis/epidemiology/core-concept/all
  • CDC, 2021. HIV in the United States and dependent areas. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/overview/ataglance.html
  • VDH, 2020. New HIV diagnoses - vdh.virginia.gov. vdh.virginia.gov. Available at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/10/2021/06/New-Diagnoses.pdf
  • VDH, 2020. Persons living with HIV - vdh.virginia.gov. vdh.virginia.gov. Available at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/10/2021/06/Persons-Living-with-HIV.pdf
  • VDH, 2021. CLUSTER DETECTION AND RESPONSE. Vdh.virginia.gov. Available at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/disease-prevention/disease-prevention/virginia-hiv-surveillance-program/cluster-detection-and-response/
  • VDH, 2021. HIV CASE SURVEILLANCE. Vdh.virginia.gov. Available at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/disease-prevention/disease-prevention/virginia-hiv-surveillance-program/hiv-case-surveillance/
  • VDH, 2021. HIV SURVEILLANCE. Vdh.virginia.gov. Available at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/disease-prevention/disease-prevention/virginia-hiv-surveillance-program/
  • VDH, 2021. MEDICAL MONITORING PROJECT. Vdh.virginia.gov. Available at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/disease-prevention/disease-prevention/virginia-hiv-surveillance-program/medical-monitoring-project/
Reviewed by Debby R, MD. Last updated on Jan 12, 2022

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