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Officials: 18% Of HIV Positive Arizonans Don't Know They Have It

Electron micrograph of HIV-1 (green) budding from an immune cell.
(Photo courtesy of the National Institutes of Health)
Electron micrograph of HIV-1 (green) budding from an immune cell.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, HIV testing rates have increased in recent years. But that rate still has not broken the 50 percent level.

Public Health officials estimate about 18 percent of people with HIV in Arizona don’t know they’re infected. That’s about two to four thousand people, a rate that falls slightly below the national average.

Kit Kloeckl is the executive director of the Aunt Rita’s Foundation, a local HIV treatment and prevention fundraising organization. He said an increase in the testing rate could make a big difference in how quickly the disease can spread to others.

"If we could get every Arizonan tested, if we could get every Arizonan in care and keep them in care, the chances they can transfer the disease to someone else drop by 96 percent," Kloeckl said.

Kloeckl added that about 50 percent of Arizonans with the infection are not receiving regular care.  

Friday is National HIV Testing awareness day. In honor of the event, organizations around Arizona will be offering free HIV tests through Saturday.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.