HIV/AIDS: U.S. Infection Rates Leveling Off, Resurgence Feared
After dropping "dramatically" during the previous decade, levels of HIV infection in the United States have stabilized since mid- 1998 at 40,000 new cases per year, the CDC reported. Helene Gayle, head of the CDC's AIDS prevention unit, said treatment failure, poor access to early testing and treatment, and difficulty following antiretroviral drug regimens have all contributed to the reduction slowdown. The CDC also warned that drug treatment advances have "resulted in some complacency about prevention," and officials expressed concern that AIDS cases will begin to increase among high-risk groups as a result. Roughly five million Americans, or about 4% of the population, are at high risk for HIV infection, the CDC reported, particularly men who have sex with men, prostitutes, users of crack cocaine or injectable drugs, and those who have six or more sexual partners (Carrns, Wall Street Journal, 7/10). A separate CDC analysis of more than 3,400 "young gay men" found 7.2% were HIV positive; for "young black gay men," infection rates were much higher at 19%. Further, more than 80% of those studied who were HIV positive were unaware of their status (Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 7/8). Gayle stressed that the U.S. must expand prevention efforts in order to meet a national goal of halving new HIV infections to 20,000 per year by 2005 -- an effort that could boost spending by the government and private organizations by $300 million annually (Wall Street Journal, 7/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.