U.S. News

Alaska: Officials Warn of HIV Outbreak in Fairbanks

March 5, 2012

Alaska health officials are rolling out an awareness and prevention campaign in response to a spike in HIV infections in Fairbanks.

Nine new HIV cases were documented in Fairbanks in the last 13 months, according to an announcement issued by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology. Seven patients were military personnel or had sexual partners associated with the military. Four patients were below age 20. Eight cases were males; all but one man confirmed meeting sexual partners via the Internet.

State HIV/STD Program Manager Susan Jones said department personnel are looking to inform those most at risk: men who have sex with men "who are finding their partners through the Internet, and having sex with people they don't know, and having unprotected sexual activity." She hopes these efforts will help people "to protect themselves, to change their behavior and come in and get tested."

After several new HIV cases were documented last year, users of Craigslist's "men seeking men" and "casual encounters" sections, as well as those accessing another website targeting gay men, were sent prevention messages. The alerts recommended they seek testing at the Fairbanks Public Health Center.

According to U.S. Army Alaska Public Information Officer Lt. Col. Bill Coppernoll, "We have open lines of communication between the Department of Health and Social Services and our medical professionals to make sure we're sharing information ... to reduce the spread."

Coppernoll asserted the Army has a "pretty rigorous screening" regimen that calls for mandatory HIV testing at least biennially; however, in reality most personnel are tested more frequently.

Back to other news for March 2012

Adapted from:
Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks)
02.22.2012; Dorothy Chomicz

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

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