January 3, 2013
New Hanover County Health Department began offering HIV screening to county jail inmates in February 2012. Participation was limited to five to seven individuals each month until October, when the health department offered a new pair of socks as an incentive for testing. In the first month of the giveaway program, 78 inmates signed up to be tested for HIV/AIDS.
Hanover County had 584 HIV-infected residents in 2011, reported Caree Varughese, HIV/STD outreach coordinator for the health department. The county ranked seventh in the state of North Carolina for new cases of HIV and syphilis. Varughese stated it is likely that 15 to 20 percent of HIV-infected people do not know their status.
Data from the North Carolina Communicable Disease Branch indicated that in Hanover County in 2011, black women comprised 79 percent of all new HIV infections among females, while black men comprised 64 percent of new HIV infections among males. Hanover County outreach targets included men who have sex with men, black women, black men, and heterosexual persons ages 13 to 28. The health department conducted 19 HIV testing events between July 1 and December 31, 2012, and tested 365 persons.