Michael Madaio of MaineHealth gives a presentation Thursday in Lewiston City Hall about the recent uptick in HIV cases in Androscoggin County and what can be done to lower the virus’ prevalence in the community. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Amid a modest increase of HIV diagnoses in Androscoggin County, the Lewiston Area Public Health Council heard a presentation Thursday from a local infectious disease doctor about the state of HIV in the county and what can be done to lower the virus’ prevalence in the community.

Michael Madaio, MaineHealth infectious disease and internal medicine doctor, spoke about the prevalence of HIV in the community and how community leaders can help prevent its spread and treat those with the virus. People can contract the virus through injecting drugs or sexual contact.

As of May 31, there were three new people diagnosed with HIV in Androscoggin County this year, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a modest increase to the roughly 2.8 new diagnoses per year, according to the average for the last five years from 2019-2023.

The new diagnoses in Androscoggin County were not people who inject drugs and there is no evidence of an uptick in HIV transmission in Androscoggin County currently, according to the Maine CDC.

There were six new diagnoses in Penobscot County from last October to April linked to the homeless community and those who inject drugs, according to the Maine CDC. Penobscot County usually experiences two new diagnoses per year. Those cases are not related to the three new diagnoses in Androscoggin County this year.

Though Maine has the fourth lowest incidence of HIV in the United States, there tends to be a long time between when someone in the state contracts the virus to when they are diagnosed, Madaio said.


Injecting drugs, living without a home and having an existing sexually transmitted disease are some of the people who are considered high risk for contracting the virus, he said. Whether someone falls into a high-risk category, everyone should be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. There is a new state law requiring providers to test individuals for HIV if they are also testing them for another sexually transmitted disease.

HIV medicine has come a long way since the 1980s, Madaio said. There are medications now that can make the virus undetectable in a person’s system, which means they do not pass the virus on to others through sexual transmission or shared needles.

He advised council members to encourage people in the community to get tested and then help them get insurance so they can access treatment, he said. There are insurance options for low-income individuals who test positive for the virus, including MaineCare.

Outreach to homeless people is also important, implementing a program that helps them get testing, treatment and encouraging preventative practices would help, Madaio said.

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