/ Modified dec 21, 2023 3:01 p.m.

Arizona sees 20% spike in 2022 HIV cases, new report says

Arizona's Department of Health Services reports a 20% spike in HIV cases, potentially tied to COVID-19 disruptions in testing; officials plan increased testing and outreach.

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AZPM Staff

Incidents of HIV cases in Arizona increased by 20% in 2022 and the Arizona Department of Health Services says it may in part be due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During 2020, the department asked community based testing to stop, which a decrease in 2020 and 2021 cases.

“We had a little under 40,000 HIV tests that ADHS funded in 2020,” Chief of the Office of HIV & Hepatitis C Services Ricardo Fernandez said. “In 2021, that increased to a little under 60,000. And in 2022, it increased again to around 69,000.”

Fernandez says now that testing has ramped back up, the department is looking to put in additional funding towards testing.

“We're also looking at changing how we do some of our HIV testing and putting out new standards of care for our programs where we're integrating HIV testing, syphilis testing, and hepatitis C testing with a goal of identifying folks that might be candidates for PrEP and having more robust linkage processes from HIV testing to PrEP,” Fernandez said.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a medication taken to prevent getting HIV. It can decrease transmission through sex by 99% and transmission through injection drug use by 74%, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The annual report also showed higher incident rates in Black and Indigenous communities. Fernandez says that could be due to less access to health care services and stigmas around HIV within marginalized communities.

“The Black and African American community have lower prep uptake rates and part of what ADHS does is fund prep navigation programs to help folks be navigated and connect with prep services with local community based organizations and health departments,” Fernandez said

In 2022, 79% of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Arizona were linked to care within 30 days of their diagnosis.

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