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HIV/AIDS still prevalent in Tri-county area PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, March 06, 2013 1:47 PM

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Editor’s note: Unless noted otherwise, all statistical information contained within this article is from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program which details transmission categories, ages, race, ethnicity and sex.

After 31 years of detailing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it seems as if the world has become a bit desensitized to the headlines regarding the number of HIV and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) related cases and deaths. Unfortunately, the disease is still very prevalent in the Tri-county area.

According to the Allen County Health Department, there are an average of 8 new HIV cases each year in the county. It is contracted in four modes: blood, semen, vaginal secretions and through breast feeding. Some people do not see themselves as risks and at risk is anyone having unprotected sex. The number one concern is there are more sexually-active younger adults age 18-24 contracting the disease. In addition, many new diagnosed cases of HIV are accompanied by the chronic bacterial co-infection Syphilis.

In 2007, there were 102 people living in Allen County diagnosed with HIV (retrovirus) infections, which included 38 white males, 14 white females, 24 black males, 19 black females, 3 Hispanic males, 2 Hispanic females and 2 unknown. Of those cases, those aged 45-49 were the highest percentage of diagnosed cases at 20 percent, followed by the 40-44-year-old range at 17 percent, and the 50-54- and 55-64-year-old range, each shared the 15 percent ranking.

By 2011, there were 125 people living in Allen County diagnosed with HIV (retrovirus) infections. Of those cases, there were 50 white males, 17 white females, 29 black males, 20 black females, 4 Hispanic males, 2 Hispanic females, 1 Asian and 2 unknown. Of those patients, 18 percent were 45-49 years old, 14 percent were aged 40-44, 14 percent were 50-54 and 13 percent fell into the 55-64 year old range.

In January 2012, the number of diagnosed HIV infection cases in Putnam County stood at 13; 7 white males; 3 white females; 2 Hispanic males; and 1 Hispanic female. Age groups 25-29 and 35-39 each had 3 cases, the 45-49 and 65+ each had 2 and the remaining 3 fell into varying age groups. Of the total cases involving males, 4 were contracted through male-to-male contact, 1 through male-to male contact and IDU and 4 were unknown. In cases including females, 1 contracted HIV through drug use, 3 via heterosexual contact and 4 were unknown causes.

As of Jan. 31, 2012, Van Wert County had 11 HIV cases. Of those cases, six fell into the 35-44 year old range, the 30-34 and 45-49 age groups each had two and the 50-54 year old group had one. All 11 cases involved white males; 6 contracted the infections through male-to-male sexual contact, 1 through male-to-male sexual contact with IDU, 2 through heterosexual contact and 2 with unknown causes.

On Sept. 30, 2012, the number of new AIDS cases in the tri-county area have remained either subdued or consistent, no matter how active, the number is still increasing. In Allen County, there were 52 cases in AIDS status. In Putnam County, 4 of the 8 reported HIV cases were in AIDS status. Additionally, Van Wert County had 7 diagnosed HIV cases with 4 cases in AIDS status.

In 2007, Ohio had a total of 534 new AIDS cases; 214 white males, 35 white females, 174 black males, 71 black females, 22 Latino males, 7 Latino females, 2 Asian males, and 9 unknown. From 2007 to 2011, there has been a relatively consistent number of new AIDS cases in both genders—averaging approximately 565—with a spike in 2009 of 621 cases. The elevated number can be attributed to a higher number of females (26 percent), up by 30 cases from 2008.

In 2012, there were a total of 17,975 reported cases which was comprised of 9,061 white males, 904 white females, 5,466 black males, 1,628 black females, 535 Latino males, 176 Latino females, 37 Asian males, 8 Asian females, 9 American Indian males, 6 American Indian females, and 145 unknown.

The three counties in Ohio with the largest population of AIDS cases are Cuyahoga with 4,081; Franklin with 3,409; and Hamilton with 2,301.

While infection rates have fallen sharply from their peak in the late 1990s, about 50,000 Americans are newly infected each year and nearly 1.2 million live with the disease. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of all new HIV infections are in blacks and among heterosexuals. Those living in poverty are twice as likely to have HIV compared to those with higher incomes.

In addition, people living in poverty have a number of barriers to getting tested which include: homelessness; unemployment; lack of insurance; lack of transportation; drug addiction; mental illness; incarceration; domestic violence; other chronic diseases, such as diabetes; lack of paid time off or child care to allow clinic visits; and the continuing social stigma of AIDS, which makes patients fear alerting others to their sexual orientation or disease status.


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