HIV in Colorado

Just because an illness isn’t too common in an area doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t know about it. This is one of the main reasons why northeastern Colorado residents had the opportunity to attend a Community HIV/AIDS Education and Action Conference hosted by Rural Solutions recently.

Speakers spoke about HIV in rural America as well as HIV in northeast Colorado. Speakers let it be known that an estimated 51,000 people in rural areas are living with HIV or AIDS. HIV risk factors more common in rural areas, including: a decreased likelihood of using condoms, people being more likely to believe their partners don’t have HIV or STD’s and high alcohol and methamphetamine use.

Jack Westfall, associate dean of rural health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, talks about HIV in northeast Colorado.
Jack Westfall, associate dean of rural health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, talks about HIV in northeast Colorado.

It is common knowledge for residents that there isn’t a lot known about HIV/AIDS in eastern Colorado. People don’t usually talk about the issue in the area and found it was something that was glossed over. Usually it is thought of as either not a problem in the community or it’s a problem but no more than normal. I t is really hidden and secret, and the people in the area just don’t know about it and don’t talk about it.

This problem that exists needs to be fixed. Hiding HIV and hiding risk factors increases the transmission of HIV. The secrecy inhibits people from accessing HIV and safe sex education. One of the first steps in dealing with this issue is getting a group of people together to identify what are the needs, what are the priorities and what resources are there to address these needs. Increasing awareness and decreasing the stigma through education will greatly help the cause. This can also help with the development of a surveillance system and plan for who will be testing and who will be reporting, along with a plan in case of an outbreak.

For more information, please check out the full article at http://www.journal-advocate.com/news/2009/jun/16/conference-seeks-increase-hiv-awareness/

Melissa Lawrence, Social Marketing Administrator, VERTICES, LLC

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