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Yavapai County sees major spike in HIV cases

Yavapai County Community Health Services reports the number of new cases is almost triple of what is seen in an average year in Yavapai County. Adobe photo image

Yavapai County Community Health Services reports the number of new cases is almost triple of what is seen in an average year in Yavapai County. Adobe photo image

YAVAPAI COUNTY — Yavapai County residents are seeing a concerning increase in HIV-positive cases over the past several months, according to statistics.

Leslie Horton, health officer for Yavapai County Community Health Services is not calling it an outbreak at this point, but the number of new cases is almost triple of what is seen in an average year in Yavapai County.

To put this in context: Most years, there are about seven to nine new HIV positive cases in Yavapai County, with a few of those who move here knowing they’re HIV positive, but get tested here to get into managed medical care.

Horton and her staff are meeting regularly with Arizona Department of Health Services and local partners in HIV testing and care and working to research and intervene to get a handle on this issue.

She has asked the state to fund an additional HIV testing position within the health department, to provide 600 HIV tests, and to support local efforts.

Area hospitals, many partner agencies including the Community Health Center of Yavapai (CHCY), and the Yavapai County Jail are helping by increasing testing of high-risk individuals and getting those that test positive into care with Northland Cares.

“The increase in HIV is countywide, and not isolated to any one part of the county,” said Horton. “HIV can be treated through medication and managed medical care. I hope that people will get tested so that they know their status and can talk to a medical provider about how treatment can help prevent further spread of the virus.

“People can live a long and pretty normal life if they are HIV positive and get into proper medical care.”

Once taking the best medication, Horton said, each patient can reduce the presence of the virus in their body to almost zero.

Yavapai County Community Health Services would like to encourage people to protect themselves from HIV by practicing safe sex and using condoms, and if a person chooses to use drugs, do not share needles with others.

HIV is preventable. County health professionals hope that with heightened awareness of the issue, people will choose to protect themselves and the ones they love.

For free, confidential HIV testing, call YCCHS at 928-771-3122.

Free at-home HIV test kits are also available. Visit https://hivaz.org/dont-know-your-status/free-home-test-kit.

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