The City of Detroit had the highest HIV rate per 100,000 people in the Metro-Detroit region, according to the most recent data released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The rate per 100,000 people as of January 2018 was 718. Regionally, Wayne County (excluding the City of Detroit) had the second highest rate per 100,000 people at 190. Livingston County had the lowest rate in the region at 54 per 100,000 people. While there is no single reason as to why Detroit has such a high HIV rate (more than four times that of the State’s average rate) there is belief among experts, according to a recent Detroit Free Press article, that it is tied to socioeconomic factors like poverty, health care access and transportation for health care access. In Detroit, according to the most recent Census data, 57 percent of the population has public health insurance coverage and 15 percent has no health insurance. According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, the number of new people diagnosed with HIV cases Michigan has remained fairly stable since the early 2000s, but there has been an increase in the number of young African American gay and bisexual men who have been diagnosed in recent years. Additionally, of those diagnosed with HIV in the State of Michigan, about 51 percent are between the ages of 40-59 years old and 78 percent of Michigan’s population living with HIV are males.
While medical advancements are being made toward finding a cure for HIV, that has yet to occur. Rather, to control and prevent the virus from evolving into AIDS, those diagnosed need to carefully and consistently treat the disease. In Detroit, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, about 20 percent of the diagnosed HIV population goes without regular treatment. Reasons for this are not concrete but it can be speculated that it is related to income, access to health care and overall knowledge on the disease and its treatment. For example, the average lifetime cost for HIV treatment is estimated to be about $400,000 and the annual median income in Detroit is about $26,000. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services those most likely to not receive consistent care in Michigan are: those between the ages of 20-29 (23 percent not receiving treatment), foreign-born individuals (32 percent), Hispanic males (25 percent) and those who inject drugs (23 percent).
Although the numbers show that those becoming infected with HIV remains a problem, funding at the State level has dropped over the years. In 2017 $19.4 million was allocated towards assisting those with HIV (medication, medical transportation and services). In Detroit, and throughout the region, there are several options for an individual to receive help. For more information, click here.