Aug 17, 2023 - Health

Iowa leads U.S. in HIV suppression

Top states by receipt of HIV medical care and viral suppression in 2021
Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Iowa leads the nation in suppressing HIV in patients who are diagnosed with the disease, according to the most recent 2021 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control.

Why it matters: Medication can delay HIV-positive people from getting AIDS, as well as prevent sexual transmission of the disease.

State of play: In Iowa, 81.7% of people diagnosed with HIV achieved viral suppression. It was only one of two states to break the 80% mark.

  • The national average is 65.9%, according to the CDC.

How it happened: Bipartisan support and strong federal and state funding have helped boost local programs.

Zoom in: Nonprofit Primary Health Care runs "The Project," which provides HIV and AIDS care for around 670 central Iowans, supportive services manager Noah Beacom tells Axios.

  • It receives $2.3 million annually from the federal government's Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, Beacom says.
  • They also have case managers for ongoing care and can help pay for services like transportation and housing — potential barriers to receiving medication.

Of note: With the funding, The Project is able to take referrals and connect patients with medication within seven days of their diagnoses.

  • They also have case managers for ongoing care and can help pay for services like transportation, a potential barrier to receiving medication.

The big picture: While HIV numbers are lowering, sexually transmitted infections like syphilis are on the rise statewide.

  • HIV's decrease can be attributed to viral suppression medications as well as PrEP, which helps prevent the chance of getting HIV, Melissa Brown of the Polk County Health Department tells Axios.

What's next: State officials created the "Stop HIV Iowa Plan" last year with the goal of reducing HIV diagnoses to fewer than 10 people by 2030.

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