These days, it’s rare when a press release from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) doesn’t pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, on Friday, June 25, the department was focused on another disease – HIV. Sunday, June 27 is “National HIV Testing Day,” and NCDHHS is using the occasion to remind everyone that there’s another disease out there to be tested for.
The focus on testing for HIV is part of the state’s “Plan to End the HIV Epidemic in North Carolina.” One part of that plan is getting people to get tested for HIV.
While not a pandemic, state officials consider the state to have an HIV epidemic. North Carolina comes in number 10 among all states when it comes to the rate of residents newly diagnosed with HIV.
As with many other diseases, minorities are at a greater risk.
“While there has been progress in the effective treatment of HIV, the impact of the disease is still disproportionate,” the June 25 press release states. “According to the preliminary North Carolina HIV Surveillance Report, 76% of people diagnosed with HIV in 2020 were people of color. Additionally, preliminary 2020 data show that while 66% of all people newly diagnosed in 2020 are receiving treatment and have an undetectable viral load, that rate drops to 57% for people of color.”
Health officials are focusing on overcoming “barriers to care” by doing things like helping people get transportation to tests and to treatment.
The state is also working to reduce the stigma that’s often associated with having HIV.
The plan was created by a committee formed two years ago that included the Department of Public Health’s Communicable Disease Branch, The North Carolina AIDS Action Network, treatment providers and other partners.
For more information about HIV in North Carolina and the state’s plan to End the HIV Epidemic in North Carolina, people can go to https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/cd/stds/program.html.
Electronic and print copies of the End the HIV Epidemic Plan are available in English and Spanish.