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November 21, 2008

Infections jump 45% among young Central Ohioans

Columbus--The number of Central Ohio teenagers and young adults infected with HIV has exploded 45 percent in just three years. Of all the Franklin County women living with HIV, nearly three-quarters are African American. As dozens of countries commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1, Central Ohioans need to be reminded that the epidemic continues right here at home.

The Ohio Department of Health reports that HIV infections in Central Ohio match the dramatic increases nationwide, especially in African Americans, youth, and women.

Between 2003 and 2006, the highest new infection rates in Central Ohio were among youth (ages 13-25), up nearly 45 percent. Infections among individuals ages 25-34 were up about 10 percent, and individuals ages 45-64 were up 13 percent. The number of new HIV infection diagnoses in the African American population jumped 22 percent. African American women are disproportionately affected, making up almost 75 percent of all women diagnosed in Franklin County.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than one million Americans are living with HIV. More than a quarter of them don’t even know they are infected. The CDC also estimates that more than 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV every year. The numbers make HIV prevention a national health priority. Tracking at-risk behaviors is an essential part of developing successful prevention efforts.

The Columbus Regional Advisory Group for HIV Prevention and the Central Ohio HIV/AIDS Consortium are planning local events to commemorate World AIDS Day, including a candlelight vigil to read names of those who have passed due to AIDS, a quilt-making workshop for people to add loved one’s names to the 2008 quilt panel, a luncheon and HIV testing, skating event, and more. For the complete schedule of events, call 800-332AIDS or visit

The Columbus Regional Advisory Group is a federally-mandated organization with a mission to reduce the spread of HIV by providing community input into local HIV prevention planning and services. This mission is accomplished through collaboration of Columbus Public Health, the Ohio Department of Health, and community members representing the epidemiological profile of HIV/AIDS in Columbus.

The Central Ohio HIV Consortium was established to identify the needs of Central Ohioans affected by HIV. Through collaborative means, the Consortium strives to assure the integration of effective, accessible services and to provide community planning and partnerships for the implementation of the Ryan White Program, the Central Ohio Case Management Network, and other resources.

Iris Velasco is an HIV/AIDS specialist with the Columbus Urban League.





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