The Nebraska AIDS Project has been around since 1984, and the need for its services continues to be strong.
London Woolman, Interim Executive Director of NAP, says the number of new diagnoses in the state remains fairly stable -- right around 100 per year -- approximately one every three days. She says about 2500 people in Nebraska are HIV positive, with roughly three to four hundred of them getting services from NAP.
Woolman says their supportive services arm focuses on getting people connected to the right resources. She says although getting treatment is easier than it used to be, there are still barriers.
“So we do address a lot of those, and then through our case management programs we kind of help people get on the right track -- whether it is through medical adherence, going to appointments regularly, staying on treatments, trying new treatments if they need to. Getting them financially sustainable – whether that’s through housing or employment.”
As far testing and prevention, Woolman says NAP offers a free 20-minute rapid-result test in their Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney offices. She says a large focus of their prevention outreach is aimed at those under 25 – the age group with the highest percentage of new diagnoses. She says people in this age group, having missed the initial epidemic of the 80s and 90s, may have a lower concern about HIV than older people have.
“I think they kind of see it as a chronic, manageable disease, and in some ways they are right about that, but certainly it is still serious and can be life altering. So we do a lot of targeted outreach that goes to student groups and colleges – kind of try to target those who are maybe more at risk and try to prevent transmission before it occurs.”
According to the CDC, nearly 40,000 people in the United States received a new diagnosis of HIV in 2016. By far the largest number of them -- nearly 15,000 -- were in the 20 to 29-year-old age group. And a 2015 research study on the CDC website reports that nearly 1/3 of the time, the people transmitting the disease were unaware of their HIV status.
For more information about the Nebraska Aids Project, the website is nap.org