JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas ranks 32nd in the United States for reported AIDS cases according to the CDC.
According to a 2010 CDC report, nearly one-fourth of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV do not know they have the virus.
"We continue to witness an unacceptably high number of new HIV cases across the state," said Dr. Paul Halverson, Director of the Arkansas Department of Health.
From 1981 to 2008, Arkansas reported 4,436 AIDS cases to the CDC. Arkansas ranks 32nd highest in the United States of reported AIDS cases.
Arkansas Department of Health disease intervention specialist Jared Pulver said the relatively low numbers of cases is due to events like the World AIDS Day conference hosted by the Arkansas State University Department of Social Work faculty and students. "I think education and awareness has a lot to do with it," he said. "People are being more cautious."
The conference is Dec. 1 and 2 in the Carl R. Reng Student Union on the university campus 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The conference is free and open the public.
The 18 county Northeast region of Arkansas has had 27 reported cases of HIV and AIDS from January to June 2011, up from 30 in 2010.
ASU senior Dessica Guyton took advantage of the free, confidential HIV given by the Arkansas Department of Health at the conference Dec. 1. "They'll put you in a room by yourself and tell you whether or not you're negative or positive, or if they need to do some further testing."
"The Arkansas Department of Health stands committed to working to decrease the spread of this and other infectious diseases. Our goal is to focus on improving the overall health and well-being of Arkansans."