In the last year, Durham County has seen about 100 new cases of HIV reported. It's also seen about 20 new cases of syphilis.
Generally speaking, that's on par with other metro areas in the state, which are seeing more cases of STDs, while North Carolina's rural areas are seeing a decline.
It's hard to know what is accounting for the rise. The most obvious possibility is an increase in unsafe sexual activity. But there's also a chance that, as screening becomes more commonplace and more effective, we're simply identifying more cases that were there to begin with.
In an effort to take testing in a more preventive direction, rather than just testing when symptoms arise, Durham County has opened a new "testing only" clinic within it's health department. It offers less-invasive testing for such infections as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis.
County Medical Director Dr. Arlene Seña says the clinic is meant for people who don't need treatment from a physician, but would like to get tested anyway. It's a urine based test, so the hope is that younger people who might be uncomfortable with more invasive measures will consider this clinic.
The latest numbers available have North Carolina ranked 11th in the country in terms of HIV rates. All-in-all, the state saw more than 500 new cases of HIV last year.