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HIV cases increase in San Luis Obispo County

An increase in cases of HIV in recent months has been reported by the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department with a noticeable jump in teenagers diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS.

“Over the last three month period we’ve had seven new cases of HIV, the three months prior to that we had four new cases, the year prior we had 15 cases, so it is concerning in that there seems to be an upward trend in new diagnoses”, said Rick Rosen with the SLO County Public Health Department, “the age range was quite broad, ranging from teens, which was a little concerning, to folks in their 30’s and it was spread across with men who have sex with men, heterosexuals, intravenous drug users, it pretty much covered the whole gamut.”

The increase in confirmed cases of HIV in the county has also been noticed by those on the front lines of promoting safe sex and testing on a regular basis.

“We typically in a year have seen maybe 15 new clients with HIV in a given year”, said David Kilburn with Access Support Network of San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties, “however since about June through this period right now, three months or so, we’ve seen 9 new cases, five of them being under 30 years old, that’s alarming, we are sort of way off the charts right now in what are normal counts are of new intakes.”

“I think my biggest concern is that people are not perceiving themselves at risk”, Kilburn said, “we’re seeing that in this younger generation that’s coming in that really wasn’t even born in the old days when we saw what AIDS was doing and killing people.”

“I think the biggest thing I’d like to get out to people is to get tested, you can avoid, if you’re in a risk population, you can get on PrEP, which is pre-exposure prophylaxis, you can take a pill once a day, we can enroll people in that program and make referrals to doctors”, Kilburn said, “same thing with Hepatitis C, right now get tested, there’s a much bigger population of people living with Hep C that don’t know it, we have cures right now, meds that are as short as 8 to 12 weeks long, single pill a day, it’s amazing, we’re seeing a lot of people getting cured of Hep C, while you can’t be cured of HIV, you can prevent it so we just want people to get tested.”

San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department says it is too early to know if this is an alarming trend of HIV in the county.

“In recent years there’s been an upward trend of Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia, we haven’t necessarily seen the same rise with HIV, maybe in certain sub-groups, but not like we’ve seen with Gonorrhea and Chlamydia”, said Rick Rosen with SLO County Public Health Dept, “it’s really too early to tell if this is kind of a cluster, sort of a one time blip, or if its an ongoing trend because we’ve just seen these numbers in particular over the last three months. If someone is diagnosed with an STD they should make sure that they are also tested for HIV.”

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