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HIV Fading as a Health Threat, but Infection Continues in NC

June 26, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C. - HIV continues to be a public health threat in North Carolina, with a significant increase of diagnoses in Cumberland County. Wednesday is HIV National Testing Day, and health officials are reminding people of the importance of making an HIV test part of their routine health screenings.

Lisa Hazirjian, the Executive Director of the NC AIDS Action Network, says the situation in the state is worrisome.

"One of the things that's most alarming to the North Carolina Aids Action Network is the frequency of late diagnosis of HIV in North Carolina."

North Carolina ranks ninth in the nation for the rate of HIV diagnoses, according to the CDC. Hazirjian says getting people to consider regular testing is the biggest obstacle.

"One of the real challenges is getting people to get into the habit of testing, make it part of their normal health routine."

North Carolina covers "medically necessary" HIV testing under Medicaid. Beginning next year, states will receive additional funding from the federal government for coverage of preventive services such as HIV testing. There are multiple sites in North Carolina offering free HIV tests on Wednesday and throughout the year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about one million people in the U.S. are infected with HIV, and they estimate about 20 percent are unaware of their conditions.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC