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HIV prevention efforts expand in rural Oregon

HIV prevention efforts expand in rural Oregon

In an effort to reduce the number of new HIV infections, Oregon officials are expanding HIV prevention efforts in rural areas. Beginning in July HIV-positive people and their partners in central and eastern Oregon will have access to counseling that focuses on how they can avoid transmitting the disease. Such counseling has been available in Portland for five years. The Oregon Department of Human Services estimates that 5,000 people in Oregon are HIV-positive and another 120,000 are at risk for infection. The state reported about 126 new infections in 2002, the most recent statistics available. "The idea is that something needed to change or some new approach needed to happen to get that [number] to decrease," said Julie Close, state HIV counseling, testing, and prevention coordinator. "This takes the prevention to the source of the infection." The service offers HIV-positive people or their partners up to six sessions with a prevention counselor. In rural Oregon the sessions will be conducted by telephone with counselors in Portland. The counselors will help people identify risky behaviors and then encourage participants to set goals aimed at changing their behavior.

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