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Ohioans Living With HIV Up Nearly 30 Percent

The number of Ohioans living with HIV has increased dramatically since 2007. But the increase isn’t necessarily bad news. “People are living a lot longer.â€? Better treatment and more testing help account for at least some of the nearly 30 percent increase in HIV prevalence around Ohio. But AIDS Resource Center Ohio’s COO Peggy Anderson said there are also more people testing positive for the virus. There’s been a steady uptick in the number of cases since 2002. “But we’re also keeping those individuals alive for a much longer, higher-quality of life which makes it seem like we’re almost doubling every time because we’re doing both of those things congruently.â€? African Americans continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. While blacks make up only 12 percent of Ohio’s population, they account for nearly half of everyone living with the disease. The CDC predicts if current trends continue, infection rates among African Americans could one day reach one in 16 for males and one in 32 for females. Anderson called the data staggering, yet an accurate forecast. And she said minority communities already are disproportionately faced with other struggles unrelated to their health. “If it’s hard for me to get a job; if I can’t afford to go to school; if there’s violence at home; if my family just needs me to go out and work and I don’t care about myself and I just need to take care of my family. Then you don’t take care of yourself. And I think that happens a lot in our minority communities.â€? Anderson said HIV has become a chronic disease rather than a death sentence if you know your status and receive treatment. Free HIV Testing June 26 Columbus Public Health, Noon to 5 p.m. 240 Parsons Ave. June 27 AIDS Healthcare Foundation, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 815 W. Broad St.-Suite 350 ARC Ohio, Clintonville Office, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 4400 N. High St.-Suite 300 Greater Columbus Mpowerment center, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 1780 E. Broad St.