The population of West Virginia (WV) is less than 1% of the US population. The State has a population of 1.84 million and is mostly rural with only five counties having a population of 50,000 or more. More than 66% of West Virginia residents live within rural areas. According to the 2015 US Census estimates, 93.6% of West Virginia residents are white, 3.6% are black, and 2.8% are other races. Of the population, 49% is male and 51% is female. West Virginia is comprised of 55 counties and 8 public health districts. West Virginia is a low prevalence state for both Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Compared to United States residents as a whole, West Virginia residents have lower incomes, higher unemployment rates, and are less highly educated. Compared to whites in West Virginia, blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. Although black males and females make up approximately 3.6% of the general population, they accounted for 18% of new HIV infections diagnosed during 2012-2016.
The HIV epidemic has affected people of all demographic and socioeconomic groups in West Virginia. While 72% of people living with HIV (PLWH) are white, African Americans accounted for 20%, although they comprise less than 4% of the population. Among PLWH, the highest number reside in Charleston, Martinsburg, Huntington, Morgantown, and Beckley. HIV/AIDS clinics have been established to provide HIV primary care in each of the highest prevalence districts. Through 2016, there were 1,746 PLWH in West Virginia. The mode of exposure most commonly reported was male-to-male sexual contact (MSM), accounting for 53% of PLWH, followed by heterosexual contact (HET) at 18%, and injecting drug users (IDU), including MSM/IDU, at 17%. Males account for 78% and females 22% of the PLWH population.
The purpose of this application is to obtain funding for the West Virginia HIV/AIDS Surveillance and Prevention Program in order to provide a comprehensive HIV surveillance and prevention program to prevent new HIV infections and achieve viral suppression among persons living with HIV. In line with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, this funding will enable an increased identification of individuals infected with HIV, increase the number of HIV infected people continuously use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), and increase viral suppression.
A decrease in the propagation of HIV infections may be achieved by proven prevention strategies. These strategies are designed to increase the number of people on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), maintain condom distribution, and initiate other evidence based intervention/prevention strategies. Reducing health-related disparities by using quality, timely, and complete surveillance and program data to guide HIV prevention efforts. These goals are in accordance with the national prevention strategy, HIV Care Continuum, and CDC’s High-Impact HIV Prevention (HIP) approach.