Spike in HIV, STI cases in Prince George's County spurs urgent action

Leaders in Prince George's County are working to raise awareness about rising HIV and sexually transmitted infection rates.

According to recent data, roughly 7 to 8 percent of people that the Health Department interacts with test positive for HIV, and Prince George's County is second only to Baltimore in the state of Maryland for HIV and STI rates.

Officials on Tuesday said the goal is to get the message across that it is preventable and treatable - and no longer the death sentence it was decades ago.

"I was with a friend when he died of AIDS. It was devastating, I must have been 26 years old," said Prince George's County Council Chair Jolene Ivey. "And to be that young and experience something like that, to lose a friend, right there with you, it was very painful and that's probably why I have kept an eye on this issue and been concerned about it."

FOX 5 also spoke with the nonprofit Daydream Sunshine Initiative in Bowie, which provides testing and treatment for HIV and STIs.

According to clinical director Michael Rice, they tested roughly 1,100 people in 2023 and saw a 2 percent positivity rate.

But with the resources and treatments available these days, Rice said that number really should be zero.

"The complications of not knowing your status are a lot harder to deal with than the complications of knowing your status. And right now with all the new HIV treatments out there – injectables, once-a-day pills – managing HIV is a lot easier than it was 20 years ago," Rice said.


FILE - Test tubes that contains blood samples from patients that tested positive with HIV.

Rice added that they are seeing a rising population of African-American cisgender women, as well as younger adults between ages 18 and 34, testing positive.

And they've also noticed a hotspot in the Capitol Heights area, where they're focusing a lot of outreach now.

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Officials emphasize that early education is the key to stopping this spread.

Free testing is available at health centers in Cheverly and Laurel, and at nonprofits, like Daydream Sunshine, throughout Prince George's County.