Wyoming: AIDS Forum Focuses on Prevention in Rural Areas
October 1, 2002
Wyoming remains largely uncharted territory for treating and preventing HIV/AIDS, particularly among gay or bisexual men in rural areas, health officials in Casper said at an annual forum on the disease.
As of June, about 144 people in Wyoming were infected with HIV/AIDS, but many more remain at risk, said Jennie Haarsager-Lieske, HIV prevention coordinator with the state Health Department. Haarsager-Lieske was among speakers at last week's third annual AIDS conference, entitled "HIV in Wyoming: New Challenges New Hope." Haarsager-Lieske said her department is working to contact health care workers in rural, under-serviced areas, many of whom might not know what kind of assistance is available from the state.
The number of HIV/AIDS cases remains relatively low in Wyoming, though officials have said new cases are beginning to mirror the national picture, with more cases reported among African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Cases have also risen among Wyoming's heterosexual females. The Health Department is targeting gay men, injecting drug users and women or children who are at-risk due to homelessness, or relationships with other people at-risk.
It has become particularly hard to diagnose new cases in gay men in outlying areas, mainly because many often do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual, said Keith Horvath from the Wyoming Rural AIDS Prevention Projects. "There isn't a central place to disseminate information [such as gay bars]," he said. "It's been a real challenge to try to get men involved." One possible solution is to ask men to take anonymous Internet surveys on their behavior and lifestyle, Horvath said.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.