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New HIV Cases Increase Sharply in Washtenaw County, Reach 15-Year High

National HIV Testing Day is Friday, June 27. Free testing is available as part of the “get tested, know your status.” campaign

New HIV cases are at a 15-year high in Washtenaw County, increasing the urgency to get tested. Friday, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day.
New HIV cases are at a 15-year high in Washtenaw County, increasing the urgency to get tested. Friday, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day.

New HIV cases in Washtenaw County are at a 15-year high, public health officials said.

A total of 33 new cases were reported in 2013, up 37 percent from 24 new cases in 2012. This is the highest number of cases seen in the county since 1999, and they’re mostly young males, Cathy Wilczynski, nurse practitioner and program supervisor with Washtenaw County Public Health, said

Friday, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day, and that’s a good opportunity for residents to learn their HIV status, Washtenaw County Public Health and the HIV/AIDS Resource Center (HARC) said in a news release.

“Testing is important. Know your status.” Wilczynski said. “Get others you know to test. If you have sex, use a condom. It’s that simple.”

“It is important to know your HIV status,” said HARC President and CEO Jimena Loveluck. “If you don’t know your HIV status, take advantage of National HIV Testing Day and get a free rapid HIV test during HARC’s mobile testing tour with three locations throughout the day in our community.  Encourage others to get tested and to get educated, especially our youth.”

Officials said 73 percent of new HIV cases are young people under the age of 30, and most are men. The age range of new cases is 18 to 59 years. Black residents are disproportionately affected, representing 55 percent of new infections.

The most frequently reported risk factor among new cases is men who have sex with men (79 percent  of all new cases). Additional information about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections reported in Washtenaw County is available here.

How to Get Tested

Public Health and HARC offer free and confidential or anonymous testing. Results from rapid HIV testing are available within 30 minutes. Washtenaw County Public Health is located at 555 Towner Street in Ypsilanti. HIV testing is available by appointment, call (734) 544-6840. Walk-in HIV testing is offered from 1-4 p.m. on Thursdays.

HARC is located at 3075 Clark Road, Suite 203, in Ypsilanti. HARC provides testing, counseling and referral services in Ypsilanti, on the University of Michigan campus and at various community locations. Call (734) 572-9355 for an HIV testing appointment.

For details about HARC’s National HIV Testing Day activities in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, click here.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, and it is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIV in the United States is spread mainly by having sex with or sharing drug injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV. HIV cannot be spread by casual contact such as hugging or shaking hands.

Prevention

When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection. Use a new, latex condom every time you have sex. Know your HIV status and the status of your partner or partners. Do not share drug injection equipment. If you need support making healthier decisions, use the prevention and education services at Public Health and HARC or talk with your health-care provider.

Treatment

Medical treatment can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system and reduce the amount of virus in someone infected with HIV. Treatment may prevent or cure some of the illnesses associated with AIDS. Treatments have prolonged the lives of people with HIV and improved their quality of life. Early detection offers more options for treatment and preventive care.

Partner Notification

When an individual is diagnosed with HIV or another sexually transmitted infection, his or her sexual or needle-sharing partners also need access to testing, information and treatment. HIV prevention specialists at Public Health and at HARC can provide support and guidance, if needed, when a diagnosed individual talks to his or her partner or partners.

Staff can also confidentially notify the partner or partners of individuals diagnosed with HIV or another sexually transmitted infection if the individual is unwilling or unable to do so. Partner notification services are available whether the individual is newly diagnosed or not.

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