Arkansas HIV numbers continue downward trend, concerns about possible lack in testing

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The number of Arkansans diagnosed with HIV continues to trend downward, but there’s concern on why those numbers are low.

The latest report from the CDC shows 287 Arkansans were diagnosed with HIV in 2019, but that number could be much higher.

The Arkansas Department of Health said the numbers only reflect people who are getting tested.

“Sometimes due to lack of information, lack of awareness, those who may benefit from getting tested, don’t,” Zuakernah Belo, HIV Prevention Program Manager with the Arkansas Department of Health said.

The ADH also said that the number of reported cases from 2020 could be inaccurate because of the pandemic.

The ADH said lack of awareness makes it hard to track cases.

“Stigma, homophobia and discrimination are still very real,” Belo said. “And so, because of that, it has been, and is a challenge when we’re encouraging individuals to come and get tested for HIV.”

According to 2018 data from the ADH, of Arkansans diagnosed with the disease, almost 56 percent were black, about 34 percent were white and nearly 8 percent were Hispanic, the numbers proving HIV doesn’t target just one group of people.

“When in fact, HIV can affect any and everyone it doesn’t have a face, race, gender or age,” Belo said.

Belo said so much has changed since the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“Someone living with HIV can live just as long as someone who is HIV negative,” Belo said.

The CDC recommends anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested at least once.

You can find more information on HIV testing by clicking HERE.

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