In the US state of Wyoming, the HIV/AIDS-related situation has not changed as drastically over the years. In 2015, around 15 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in Wyoming, making the state rank 49th in the number of HIV cases. By 2018, 12 new cases of HIV were reported in Wyoming, bringing the total of people living with HIV in the state to 348.
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As the name suggests, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that generally spreads through sexual contact, blood transfusion, and breast milk. If an individual contracts HIV, it will remain in the body for life.
The virus attacks the body's immune system, so it becomes for your body to combat infections. If left untreated, the virus can take an advanced form called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). This is the last stage of the infection. There's no cure for HIV, but it is possible to manage the infection and live a healthy, happy, and long life through advanced treatment options.
Between 2014 and 2018, nearly 74 new HIV cases were reported in Wyoming, out of which the rate of newly diagnosed infection significantly increased in 2017 and 2018. Out of the 74 reported HIV cases, nearly 30% or 22 cases were reported when the infection had reached Stage 3. That's when AIDS develops in the body. This indicates that almost a third of the total new diagnoses made during this period were late testers.
It is important to get regularly screened for the prevalence of HIV/AIDS because late testing often results in missed opportunities for HIV treatment and prevention of its spreading to other uninfected individuals. But the first line of action is to get tested because that's the only way to identify whether you are infected or not.
In Wyoming, the Communicable Disease Unit is responsible for assessing and investigating HIV/AIDS cases annually. The unit focuses explicitly on identifying out-of-care patients and re-engages them to get assistance and treatment. The HIV Care Continuum was created after the unit completed an investigation in 2018. It is important to note that Wyoming has a high percentage of out-of-care cases. With the state's efforts, almost 91% of those retained in care reported a suppressed viral load in 2018.
The Wyoming Department of Health's Communicable Disease Treatment Program is a great initiative that offers people living with HIV/AIDS access to comprehensive supportive services, including health care. The program serves as a last resort for under-insured, uninsured, and low-income people living with HIV who don't have access to medical treatment.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Health Resources Services Administration are three federal entities responsible for providing grants for Wyoming's statewide HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives.
The state's HIV/AIDS prevention programs offer miscellaneous services to infected individuals, including testing and diagnostics, medical care, medications, case management services, etc.
The Wyoming AIDS Education and Training Center (WyAETC) has collaborated with the Casper-Natrona County Health Department to educate health providers about HIV infection and how to deal with it. It tackles a broad range of issues faced by people living with HIV, from diagnosis to treatment and psychological issues. The Casper-Natrona County Health Department has funded this program since 2007, and regular updates are provided to the Wyoming Department of Health Communicable Diseases Program.
According to Wyoming state HIV profile 2009-2010, the estimated reported AIDs cases in 2010 were 282, and the estimated number of people living with HIV in the state was 112.
By 31 December 2018, the number of people living with HIV increased to 332. Of those 332 cases, males accounted for around 80% of cases, and more than half of HIV-infected individuals were classified as HIV Stage 3 patients (52%). Reportedly, men who have sex with men (MSM) reported the greatest number of cases among males with 63%, followed by those who were MSM and injected drugs with 15% of all cases in Wyoming. Heterosexual sex was identified as the most common risk factor among females with a 48% prevalence rate.
In Wyoming, Natrona County accounted for the largest number of new HIV diagnoses from 2014 to 2018 (23%). The second most affected region in the state was Laramie County (21%), while Campbell County ranked third in the overall new diagnoses rate with 10% of all reported cases.
It must be noted that as many as 9 Wyoming counties didn't report any new HIV cases between 2014 and 2018, while the infection rate was highest in Goshen County during this period with 8.9 cases per 100,000 people, reflecting the fact that the county houses the Wyoming Department of Corrections intake facility. This department conducts testing on all new inmates.
Teton County recorded the second-highest infection rate with just 7.5 cases/100,000 population, followed by Natrona and Hot Springs counties, as each reported more than four cases/100,000 people.
Age, Gender, Ethnic Disparities
Wyoming state has a relatively low number of HIV/AIDS cases on the whole, but the fact cannot be ignored that more minorities are affected by the virus. As per the 2018 statistics from AIDSVu, close to 80% of all HIV diagnoses were reported among males, while females accounted for 21.3% of all new cases in Wyoming. This corroborates with the national trend among the HIV-related gender variation prevailing nationwide.
Ethnicity-wise, the White population accounted for the highest number of HIV cases in Wyoming with over 68% of all cases, followed by Hispanic/Latinx with over 17% cases. African-Americans reported nearly 6.3% of all HIV diagnoses in 2018.
Age-wise, the most impacted group of the population was people aged 55 or above as this group reported close to 34% of all HIV cases, followed by the 45-54 age group with 25.9% and the third most affected group was 35-44 with 21% of all cases. The least impacted group was 13-24, with 2.9% of all infections, and people between ages 25-34 accounted for 17% of all HIV cases in Wyoming.
White males aged between 25 and 34 years were the most affected population in 2018, while most new HIV infections were diagnosed among non-Hispanic Whites at 91%. The average infection rate among non-Hispanic blacks from 2014-2018 was 27.6%, higher than any other race/ethnicity in the state. However, during 2016-2018, there weren't any cases reported among non-Hispanic blacks.