The number of people living with HIV in the New River Valley remains at 81 and another 65 have been diagnosed with AIDS. But the good news, according to the Virginia Department of Health, is that the number of new cases has leveled off.
Statistics show 10 new cases were reported in 2013 with eight in 2014 and 10 in 2015. Montgomery County had the highest rate in 2013 with eight new cases but has fallen off to one in 2014 and one in 2015.
The city of Radford recorded one in 2011 and one in both 2014 and 2015. Both Pulaski and Giles counties saw their rate of new cases increase. Pulaski had one in 2012, two in 2013 and 2014 with three in 2015. Giles saw three new cases in both 2014 and 2015. Meanwhile Floyd recorded one new case n 2014 and two in 2015.
The new numbers from the Virginia Department of Health show that Montgomery County recorded three new cases this past year with Radford reporting one. Pulaski also had one new cases diagnosed along with three in Giles and one in Floyd counties.
Those living with HIV and AIDS show a whole different side of the disease. Montgomery County currently has 38 people living with HIV, according to numbers recorded in 2016, and 34 with AIDS. Radford has much fewer numbers with nine living with HIV and five with AIDS. Pulaski County has 16 with HIV and seven living with AIDS.
The total number of those living with HIV in the New River Valley is estimated at 81 and another 65 living with AIDS.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than a million people in the United States are living with HIV, and that number grows by almost 50,000 every year.
The CDC recommends that anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once in their lifetime, and those that may be at higher risk get tested more often. A general rule for those with any risk factors is to get tested at least once a year.
The director of the New River Health District, Dr. Noelle Bissell, echoes the fact that knowledge is power and getting an HIV test has never been more important.
Free and low-cost testing options are available, and some provide results in as little as one minute. The Virginia Department of Health offers free, confidential HIV testing at local health departments in Christiansburg (210 S. Pepper St.) and Radford (220 E. Main St.).
For more information or to make an appointment, call 585-3300 (Christiansburg) or 267-8255 (Radford).
There are also currently 32 Walgreens stores across Virginia offering free HIV testing. Pharmacists at these stores use INSTI, an HIV antibody test that gives results in 60 seconds. The nearest Walgreens to the New River Valley is at 2351 Franklin Rd., S.W., Roanoke.
Testing is available on a walk-in basis during the hours when a specially qualified pharmacist is on-duty; therefore, testing hours may vary, and it is recommended that you call the pharmacy before traveling to the store.