Virginia's Eastern Region Has One of State's Highest HIV Rates, Experts Say; Blacks Mostly Affected
January 26, 2009
In 2008, the Virginia Health Department's Eastern Region had a rate of 19 new HIV infections reported for every 100,000 residents, which is nearly twice the rate in Northern Virginia and higher than the state rate of 12 infections for every 100,000 residents, Newport News Daily Press reports. That same year, there were 332 new HIV infections reported in the region, which includes Hampton Roads, the Middle Peninsula and the Eastern Shore.
"The population that is most at risk [is] the socioeconomically disadvantaged African-Americans," Robert Johnson, director of outbreak response with the state Health Department, said, adding, "We know from years of research that poverty leads to less access to health care, and it leads to less care about care."
Health care workers and HIV advocates in Hampton Roads are encouraging residents to speak openly about HIV, be tested and disclose their status. "The area is so deeply embedded in denial, both on the individual and the community level," Donald Walker, the HIV Early Intervention Services prevention supervisor for the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board, said. "It's those secrets that perpetuate the virus in this community," he said (Finneran, Newport News Daily Press, 1/23).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.