Number of California Residents Living With HIV Increases
The number of California residents living with HIV has increased by 40% over the past seven years, largely because of new treatments, according to a study released on Wednesday by the University of California, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The study found that:
- About 151,000 state residents were HIV positive in 2005, compared with 108,000 in 1998;
- An estimated 57,200 residents have HIV infections that have progressed to AIDS, double the number of diagnosed AIDS cases in the state 10 years ago (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1);
- State and federal funding for HIV prevention programs by the state Office of AIDS decreased from $54.8 million in fiscal year 2002-2003 to $47.5 million in FY 2004-2005. In FY 2005-2006 the budget will increase to $53.1 million;
- Spending per person with HIV decreased from $429 in FY 2000-2001 to $351 in FY 2005-2006;
- The annual cost of drugs for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program increased from $145 million in FY 2000-2001 to $270 million this year;
- About 18% of state residents diagnosed with AIDS are black, although blacks account for about 7% of the state population (Locke, AP/Modesto Bee, 12/1).
According to the Chronicle, the "change is not so much driven by an increase in infection rates" as by new medicines that are "keeping the virus in check." However, there are "worrisome signs that an increase in infections is likely," the Chronicle reports.
The study used several surveys as indicators and found that:
- The number of clients in the HIV Counseling and Testing Program who reported having sex with more than five partners in the previous two years increased to 24% in 2003, from 10% in 1995;
- 26% of men diagnosed with AIDS who have sex with other men reported not using a condom in 2003, compared with 11% in 2000; and
- The rate of San Francisco residents having unprotected anal sex increased to 67% in 2003, compared with 42% in 1997 (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1).
Although new treatments can prolong the lives of residents with HIV/AIDS, doctors are concerned that they are only beginning to learn the long-term effects of some "powerful and costly drug cocktails," the Los Angeles Daily News reports. There are some indications that antiretroviral drugs can increase the risk of heart disease and could lead to high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, according to health experts.
While officials don't have estimates of the average life span of a person with AIDS, "if the prognosis of longer lives holds true, there could be a surge in over-50 AIDS patients in Los Angeles," as 44% of people living with AIDS are between 40 and 49 years old, the Daily News reports (Uranga, Los Angeles Daily News, 12/1).
In related news, nearly 1,700 people from 37 states and 17 countries attended the Disturbing Voices HIV/AIDS Conference this week hosted by the Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The three-day conference, which lasts through World AIDS Day on Thursday, teaches smaller churches to start AIDS ministries by providing information on the disease and workshops on outreach efforts for HIV-positive people and those diagnosed with AIDS, according to Rev. Rick Warren, who organized the conference.
Speakers at the conference advocated abstinence, monogamy and condom use as methods of HIV prevention (Enriquez, Los Angeles Times, 12/1).
Warren said, "The church has been missing in action" in the fight against AIDS and will "no longer sit on the sidelines" (Pepper, Orange County Register, 12/1).