South remains hotspot for HIV

Risks continue

From the vindication of “Patient Zero” to the discovery of an antibody that neutralizes 98 percent of HIV strains, 2016 ushered in significant breakthroughs in HIV research. HIV has reached every corner of the  country and continues to affect 1.2 million Americans.

The likelihood of becoming infected with HIV in the U.S. is 1 in 99, but the lifetime risk of becoming infected increases greatly for those living in the South and in some areas of the East Coast. The risk is even greater for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women of color. If current trends continue, one out of two African-American MSM and trans women are estimated to contract HIV at some point in their lifetimes; for Latino MSM and Latina trans women, the risk is one out of four.

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With World AIDS Day still recent, GetTested.com, the makers of a start-up at-home STD testing kit, released a map highlighting the continued risks of the HIV epidemic in the South. Using publicly available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a new map shows where the risk of becoming infected with HIV is greatest in the United States.

Using different color designations, the map shows the varying degrees of lifetime risk of HIV infection in each state. Although only a third of the population reside in the region, 44 percent of Americans diagnosed with HIV live in the South. The map outlines this area as the riskiest for HIV infection.

gettested_hivmap_2016

Nine of 10 cities with the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses are in the South, with Baton Rouge, Miami and New Orleans topping the list. In the Carolinas, Columbia ranked eight with nearby Memphis and Atlanta edging the Palmetto State capital city out as numbers six and seven, respectively. GetTested.com included cities with a population of 50,000 people or more, infection rates reflect per 100,000 population, and include data from surrounding counties.

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“Testing is a vital step to stemming the spread of HIV in our country. Approximately one in eight of those infected with HIV don’t know, causing them to spread the virus unknowingly to their partners,”  says Hannah Dela Cruz, spokesperson for GetTested.com. “All sexually active individuals should take charge of their health by testing regularly and talking to their partners about screening.”

Launched in September 2016, GetTested.com is a new service that delivers at-home STD test kits nationwide. GetTested.com makes screening for seven of the most common STDs easy and convenient. Kits can be ordered online for a flat rate of $199, and are delivered in discreet, unmarked packaging. Samples can be collected within 15 minutes and mailed directly to a CLIA certified and CAP accredited laboratory for testing. Results are made available within three to five days and are accessible through a HIPAA-compliant portal.

For more information on GetTested.com, visit gettested.com.

For more local and regional World AIDS Day coverage, be sure to check out our last print edition and our “Life, Positively” special section at goqnotes.com.

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