One statistic on the rise in North Dakota has officials concerned.
Last year, 45 cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in the State. Just halfway into 2013, there are already 26 cases. The Department of Health believes population growth is only partly to blame. "More so, we think that people just don't understand there is a huge risk here in North Dakota for acquiring the disease. It is here. It is present. And it is possible to be infected," says Shannon Jahner, HIV Prevention Coordinator, ND Department of Health.
In fact, nearly 600 cases have been reported in the State since tracking began in 1984. So today, on National HIV Testing Day, health officials are urging people who engage in high-risk behavior -- such as sex with multiple partners and injection drug use -- to be tested at least annually.
But they encourage everyone between the ages of 16 and 65 to be tested at least once. They say infection can happen to anyone -- even people living in a small, rural state.
Here in North Dakota, many assume the issue is confined to oil country, but officials say that's not the case. "There are some misconceptions that the disease is related definitely to the development in Western North Dakota. However, we're seeing our cases widespread across the State, so that necessarily isn't the issue," says Jahner.
Contact the North Dakota Department of Health to locate a free testing center near you.
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