Recent data has found that gay men seem to be avoiding HIV tests. This trend leans worse in rural areas. Experts say that a wide-ranging stigma over HIV and AIDS testing is to blame.
Investigators for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a conference last month, to share data findings from various studies, and information from real-world operational evidence. The HIV-test problem was discussed.
In one regional example (rural West Virginia), sexual contact between men is the predominant vector for HIV spreading, despite the wide growth in needle-sharing habits among drug users.
The state health department reached out to the CDC for help, after a noticeable increase in diagnoses across three counties (which was later expanded to twelve counties in the neighboring area).
The HIV-test issue is not limited to West Virginia. According to Arkansas Online, “Cases of HIV and AIDS in Arkansas jumped about 46 percent between 2012 and 2016—from 275 to 402, according to data from the department.”
Being openly gay or bisexual in rural America is a difficult prospect. Additionally, rural and conservative districts are less likely to offer classes in sexual education, frustrating attempts to maintain disease control.