VENTURA, Calif. - Health officials in Ventura County are seeing an increased number in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections.
From 2011 to 2012, the number of cases of the virus that leads to AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) jumped from 26 people to 46.
"We had an increase in 20 cases of HIV which is of course is tragic for everybody but it's also good news on one level," said Dr. Robert Levin of the Ventura County Public Health Department.
Some medical experts believe the numbers might be an indication that people are taking a pro-active approach to their health, by testing to see if they're infected with HIV.
"Now that we are diagnosing it earlier, this is a very good thing," said Levin. "It means less transmission of HIV into the community and better care for those patients."
At the Pacific Pride Foundation in Santa Barbara, HIV testing is anonymous and quick -- a prick of the finger for a drop of blood or a quick swab of the mouth.
"We have our individual test kits right here. This side is a little solution that will react with the blood sample to let us know if there are any antibodies present. It looks only for HIV antibodies. Once we get the sample. We put the drop of blood in the test kit. We open a new test, get it going," said Malek Guerbaoui.
The results are available in 20 minutes.
Santa Barbara County's HIV numbers are also up slightly for the 2011-2012 time period, from 16 people to 20. The number of cases in San Luis Obispo County decreased from 11 to 9.
But those are just the new, known infections; experts say one out of five people don't know their status.
The Center for Disease Control recommends people 13-64 get a HIV test at least once in their life. For people who are intravenous drug users or who have multiple sex partners, it is recommended they get tested yearly.
HIV Testing Sites:
Santa Barbara County Public Health
345 Camino del Remedio
Bldg 4, Rm 331
Santa Barbara, CA
Pacific Pride Foundation
South Santa Barbara County
126 E. Haley Street, Suite A-11
Santa Barbara, CA
North Santa Barbara County
819 W. Church Street
Santa Maria, CA
Ventura County Public Health
3147 Loma Vista Rd.
2500 C Street, Suite B1
2240 E. Gonzales Rd., Suite 140
1133-B E. Los Angeles Ave.
Simi Valley, CA
San Luis Obispo County Public Health
2180 Johnson Ave.
San Luis Obispo, CA