Eugene, OR – In response to a recent spike in HIV cases as well as other STIs, Lane County Public Health has reached out to local agencies, HIV Alliance and PeaceHealth, in order to provide additional HIV and STI prevention options for Lane County residents.
“We are fortunate to be able to have the partners we do here in Lane County,” said Lane County Chief Health Officer, Dr. Patrick Luedtke. “Being able to utilize the expertise of local agencies like HIV Alliance and PeaceHealth to assess the situation and respond with strategies that they know to be effective in our region is a huge asset.”
Lane County has seen eight new HIV infections since November, increasing the preliminary total to 19 new infections in 2016. In addition to new HIV infections, data between January and November 2016 shows a jump in Gonorrhea, from 164 infections in 2015 to 246 in 2016. Lane County saw 51 new syphilis infections, after seeing 52 in 2015 and 35 in 2014. Lane County Public Health, HIV Alliance and PeaceHealth partnered in late 2016 when responding to an HIV cluster in the Florence region. The agencies successfully identified 7 new infections and connected all newly diagnosed individuals to treatment.
“The best way to track these HIV clusters and prevent new STIs is to get people tested” says Renee Yandel, HIV Alliance Executive Director. “The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone ages 15-64 get tested for HIV and so we are encouraging everyone to get tested.”
Testing is the most effective strategy for preventing HIV because it identifies new infections and connects any newly diagnosed individuals to treatment plans. Once connected to treatment, people can lower their viral loads to a point where they are significantly less likely to spread to the disease.
HIV Alliance will be providing HIV testing on Mondays from 3 to 5pm for a $25 suggested donation. In addition, HIV Alliance provides free testing to men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and partners of people living with HIV from 5 to 7pm on Monday and Tuesday, 6 to 8pm on Thursday, and 1 to 5 pm on Fridays. The Alliance is currently partnering with PeaceHealth to provide free HIV and hepatitis C testing, counseling and referral services every first and third Friday in Florence, OR, from 12 to 6pm at Building 310 on 400 Ninth Street, Florence, OR 97439. The agency provides STI testing to OHP members on Friday from 1 to 3pm.
“People have options,” says HIV Alliance Prevention Manager, Tyler Boyet, “We now have medical prevention options, such as PrEP and PEP, and are scheduling appointments to get people enrolled.” PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a medication prescribed to people who are at a higher risk for HIV that can prevent the transmission of HIV even if the person comes into contact with the virus.
Copyright 2015 HIV Alliance.
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