High rates of HIV cases reported in rural Alabama

Local News

DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — The Alabama Department of Public Health released reports for the period of January 1 through September 30, 2019, saying there were 390 confirmed new HIV diagnoses.

“The report’s data, the assessments, the groups that met to compile information identified that there were 48 isolated counties that needed additional focus,” said Thomas Stephens, medical relations specialist for Medical Advocacy & Outreach. “There were seven states, and Alabama’s one of them, particularly because of the rates in rural communities.

Stephens said that many times, people have forgotten that HIV is a pandemic, and over the last 30 years with competing public talking points, it’s been overshadowed, but now in this day and age, it’s a concern on a national level.

“HIV is critical and addressing it is critical, not because of the people,” Stephens said. “The people are people; you should see them as people before the illness. The people that medical science did not advance fast enough to save, we will never know their potential, so we have to make sure those living with it today live the best life possible because that potential is in all of us and it’s particularly in them.”

Stephens also said that in terms of treatments, there are conceivably 30 different pill-based treatments on the market, but there are different factors that go into determining which one is best.

“What often the providers, the doctors, the nurses have to do is align which of them works best with that particular individual’s chemical makeup,” Stephens said. “Each of them are going to have varieties of side effects. You also have to align with what other health conditions they’re on.”

About 1.1 million people in the nation are living with HIV, and it has claimed more than 700,000 lives in the United States since 1981.

Recently, a pharmaceutical company announced a possible cure could be in the works, but it would still have to undergo testing.

You can read more about MAO’s work with HIV awareness by following this link.

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