CHEYENNE — In Wyoming last year, at least three people who died or showed up at a doctor's office never knew that they were infected with the virus that causes AIDS, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
Wyoming health officials were hoping that National HIV Testing Day on Tuesday would raise awareness about the need to be tested for HIV.
"The bottom line is HIV can affect people from all walks of life, and it is important to be aware of your status," said Rob Johnston, HIV prevention coordinator at the state Health Department. "Once you have the facts, you can get help and take precautions to avoid spreading the disease."
Leon Solis, an HIV/AIDS counselor at the nonprofit Pathfinder in Cheyenne, said the number of people tested for HIV has dropped from 30-40 people a month about eight years ago to maybe five now.
"Numbers everywhere, as far as testing, are low," he said.
"I'm struggling to get people tested."
Solis said he hopes the drop in testing is because people are more educated about HIV and are making wiser decisions as a result.
According to the state Health Department, 194 people in Wyoming are known to have HIV.
Pamela Reamer Williams, director of the Wyoming AIDS Project, said she believes HIV is spread in Wyoming mainly by people who don't know they are infected.
"Overwhelmingly, people who know their HIV status are very responsible in not transmitting the infection," she said.
Some national health advocates are calling for every sexually active person to be tested every year, Reamer Williams said.