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Cuyahoga County HIV Facts and Figures

As of 2020, more than 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that attacks the immune system. If left untreated, HIV can progress to a serious disease called AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This happens when a person either:

  • Has a T-cell count below 200 or
  • Has certain opportunistic infections, such as HIV-related encephalopathy, or Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS).

Once an individual is diagnosed with AIDS, even when they recover and get healthier, they will always have AIDS. AIDS is a medical diagnosis that is not reversible, but treatment can reverse some of the effects of AIDS-related illness.

In Ohio, there are about 25,000 people living with HIV. The most impacted communities are men who engage in sex with men, transwomen, and Black men and transwomen who have sex with men. Black people in Ohio make up about 44% of people living with HIV, a huge disproportion considering Black people are roughly 12.5% of Ohio’s total population. Of the new diagnoses, 80% were among males and 48% were among African American males, over half of the total male infection rate and nearly half of the total infection rate in Ohio. (Note: the epidemiological data does not separate gender and sex assigned at birth, an issue advocates have been working to change.)

This can be attributed to social determinants of health, one of the lingering effects of racism and marginalization in this country. More support is needed to include these communities in the conversation of HIV/AIDS and healthcare. Check out the ways in which Cuyahoga county organizations are fighting this, such as the AIDS Funding CollaborativeWe Think 4 Change, or our PrEP website, Pop IT to Block IT.

Cuyahoga county has the second highest HIV infection rate of all counties in Ohio at 21% of total infections, just 1% behind Franklin county where Columbus, Ohio’s most populated city, is located. At MetroHealth, we average about 1 new infection per week, or 52 per year. Infection rates have remained steady for the past 6 years, averaging 965 new infections in the state per year, 150 to 190 of those from Cuyahoga county. More education and easily accessible prevention methods are needed to break the plateau and reduce this number. Our goal as a collective HIV community is to reduce the number of new infections to zero.

The condition has a significant impact on our community. In Cuyahoga County, 5,180 people were living with HIV in 2020, according to the Ohio Department of Health. New ways to reduce HIV risk are continuously being developed, including PrEP, the medication that lowers HIV infection risk by 99%. See MetroHealth’s PrEP page for more information.

Additional Resources

Recent Data of U.S. HIV Stats

CDC data on opportunistic infections

ODH Ohio Surveillance Data for HIV/AIDS 2020