Los Angeles County Reports First Increase in Incidence of AIDS Since 1992
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services on Tuesday announced that the number of AIDS cases in the county increased from 1,555 in 2001 to 1,562 in 2002, the first increase in AIDS cases in the county since 1992, the Los Angeles Daily News reports (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 2/17). The increase was seen only in men, whose AIDS cases increased 1.6% in 2002, compared with a 6% decrease in AIDS cases diagnosed among women, Agence France Press reports. The rise in cases among men was chiefly among whites and Asian-Pacific Islanders, whose AIDS rates are traditionally the lowest in the United States (Agence France Press, 2/18). "I think this is a wake-up call in a sense that we have a lot of indications there is an increase in high-risk sexual behavior," Dr. Jonathan Fielding, county public health officer, said, adding, "Although this increase is small, it may well signal an end to the yearly decline in new AIDS cases we have been seeing since 1992." However, Gordon Bunch, director of the county's HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Program, said that "it is too early to know if what we are seeing is a real increase or just a one-time anomaly" because of increased laboratory reporting for new HIV and AIDS cases. The estimated number of people living with AIDS in the county has doubled to more than 19,000 since 1993, the Daily News reports. In addition, another 25,000 to 35,000 people in Los Angeles County have HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS. "There are more people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County today than at any time before," Charles Henry, director of the county Office of AIDS Programs and Policy, said (Los Angeles Daily News, 2/17).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.