HIV cases rise in Coos County, health agency reports

FILE - HIV Alliance (SBG photo)

COOS BAY, Ore. -- Coos County typically has one or two new HIV cases per year, but in 2017, the county saw four new cases and in the first six months of 2018, there have been six new HIV cases reported to Coos Health & Wellness-Public Health, the agency said Tuesday.

HIV is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. It's most often transmitted by injection, unsafe drug use, and unprotected sex, the agency says.

If undetected and untreated, the body’s immune system can become badly damaged and lead to AIDS.

Currently, only 37 percent of adult Oregonians have ever been tested for HIV, Coos Health & Wellness says. "All adults should be tested at least once in their lifetime."

Testing is Easy

HIV Alliance offers free HIV and Hepatitis C testing on the 2nd & 4th Fridays of the month from noon to 4 p.m. at Coos Health & Wellness, 281 LaClair St in Coos Bay. For more information call (541) 266-6700.

Prevention Works

Prevention programs on syringe exchange, education, and condom distribution have helped Oregon maintain low levels of new HIV infection, the agency says. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is when people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected.

Treatment Saves Lives

With early testing and treatment, people who are infected are leading longer, healthier lives, the agency says.

"86% of persons newly diagnosed with HIV in Oregon are linked to care within 90 days and 92% are linked within a year. It is estimated that if all Oregonians who know they are HIV infected were virally suppressed, it could prevent over two-thirds of new HIV infections."

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