Number of AIDS Cases, Deaths Stable from 1998 to 2000
According to data released yesterday by the CDC at the National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, AIDS cases and AIDS-related deaths have remained stable over the last two years, signalling that an "era of dramatic declines" in the mid-1990s might be over, the Washington Post reports. Figures through December 2000 show that 774,467 Americans were reported to have AIDS, and 448,060 died of complications related to the disease. Each quarter from July 1998 through June 2000, nearly 10,000 new AIDS cases were diagnosed and 4,000 AIDS-related deaths were reported, compared to 15,000 new cases and 10,000 deaths a quarter at the epidemic's "peak" during the early 1990s. The data is considered "preliminary" because information for 2000 is not yet complete, but it "indicate[s] that our progress in fighting the disease is in serious jeopardy," Dr. Helene Gayle, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, said.
The new numbers come amid reports that show HIV infections are on the rise in some populations. The annual number of new infections has remained stable at 40,000, but the demographics of the new infections are changing. HIV is "reaching younger people, it's reaching more women, it's reaching more communities of color," Gayle said (Okie, Washington Post, 8/13). Gay men account for 42% of new infections, with heterosexuals infected through sexual intercourse accounting for 33% of new cases and intravenous drug users accounting for a quarter. Nearly half of all new cases are in blacks, while whites and Latinos account for 30% and 20% of new cases, respectively (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/14). A recent CDC survey found that HIV infections were increasing particularly among young gay black men, with 14.7% becoming infected each year, compared to 2.5% of white men. The CDC reported that the numbers are somewhat puzzling because black men were actually "somewhat less likely" to report engaging in risky sexual behavior than other gay men. The high rate of infection in the population may be attributable to the "relatively small" number of gay black men seeking partners among the same population. Gayle said that the rise in HIV infections among gay men is "particularly troubling" because the gay community's activism was a "major reason" for the decline in infection rates in the late 1980s and early 1990s (Washington Post, 8/13).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.