Arizona is dealing with a spike in HIV cases, according to the latest national numbers and local prevention groups.
“This is a public health issue that we now have the resources to completely prevent,” said Glen Spencer, Executive Director of Aunt Rita’s Foundation in Phoenix.
Between 2010 and 2015, the rate of HIV infections nationwide decreased nine percent, according to the CDC. In the same time period, the infection rate in Arizona increased 35 percent, Spencer’s data shows.
“Right now there are some limitations in state law that put up barriers to young kids getting education — comprehensive sex education in school," he said.
Since 1991, state law has prohibited schools from teachings that promote “a homosexual lifestyle” or suggest that safe-sex methods are safe, or safer, for homosexual sex. A bill that would’ve changed that was voted down last year by state legislators.
“There’s still a perception that talking honestly about HIV and HIV transmission somehow is a bad thing,” he said.
Spencer is also pushing for increased awareness of PrEP, a once-a-day drug that greatly decreases the risk of HIV infection.