Richmond HIV rate among highest in nation - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Richmond HIV rate among highest in nation

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Richmond has one of the highest rates of HIV in the country according to new data released by the Virginia Department of Health.

Approximately 2300 people are living with the disease right now in the city, and the number is growing.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, more than 70 new cases are detected every year.

One reason for the number is that HIV isn't the death sentence it used to be, says Dr. Jim May. "The good news is you can live a full life but the bad news is some people see that and say, 'that's not going to kill me.' They play fast and loose when they shouldn't be."

At Creighton Court Thursday, the Fan Free Clinic is doing mobile HIV testing. "Where people have limited access to resources - we bring resources to them," said Ashleigh Hobson. "Getting an HIV test provides somebody with an opportunity to protect themselves and others at well."

Dr. May says, poverty and lack of education are other reasons behind Richmond's HIV rate. "There's all kinds of diseases that correlate with poverty and one of those happens to be HIV. We have a high rate of poverty in Richmond."

The state says, more than 80% of those with HIV are African American and that the fastest growing population is men who have sex with men.

If detected early enough, a person with HIV can receive treatment. The downfall is that without insurance, it costs anywhere from $20,000-$60,000 a year.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved

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