Minnesota AIDS Group To Offer HIV Testing in Rural Areas
As more HIV cases are being detected in rural Minnesota, groups such as St. Paul, Minn.-based Rural AIDS Action Network are offering free HIV testing in those areas, the AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. According to RAAN, the number of HIV cases in West-Central Minnesota increased by 12.4% over the last year, and although rural areas still have relatively few reported HIV cases, the number of new infections is increasing faster in rural areas than in metropolitan areas such as Minneapolis and St. Paul. Across the state, the number of new HIV cases has begun to "inch up" after remaining below 300 for two years, according to the state Health Department, the AP/Pioneer Press reports. The state last year reported 305 new HIV infections, with 32 occurring in rural Minnesota. "We have a new HIV case reported every 29 hours in Minnesota," Dr. Harry Hull, a state epidemiologist, said, adding, "Providing people with knowledge about how to protect themselves against HIV is the only way to begin reducing these rates." Kirk Fiereck, counseling, testing and outreach coordinator with RAAN, said that HIV cases in rural Minnesota may be underreported because few people undergo testing. "That's another reason why we're trying to get testing available," Fiereck said, adding, "I think we're reaching people who are a little more underserved." Funding for agencies that provide HIV testing recently has been cut, which has made testing unavailable in some rural areas, Fiereck said, adding, "We're trying to fill that void." There have been 7,000 individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota since 1982, and 2,500 people in the state have died of AIDS-related illnesses, according to the health department (AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 11/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.