VENTURA COUNTY: AIDS Cases Drop, but HIV May Be on the Rise
AIDS cases in Ventura County have dropped for the second year in a row, however, health officials fear that the number of new HIV infections may be increasing, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to county health officials, there are 44 new AIDS cases this year, compared to 48 cases last year, and Lynn Bartosh, who heads the AIDS surveillance branch of the Ventura County Public Health Department, said the numbers have dropped sharply since 1996. Although the figures appear encouraging, Bartosh warns that drug combinations, or "cocktails," have delayed the onset of AIDS for those diligent about following disease management. Bartosh also underscored the importance of county residents remaining "vigilant by avoiding risky behavior." Susan Attaway, program manager for AIDS education and prevention at the health department, argued that whatever the specific number of HIV positive resident is in Ventura County -- health officials "predict" that there are anywhere between about 900 and 3,000 -- more people are contracting HIV than in previous years. "I know the people who deal with HIV-positive patients say their caseloads are growing," Attaway said. AIDS Care case manager Martin Perrier noted that he also has seen an increase in the number of people in their early 20s coming into the Ventura clinic. He said that young people "have this air of immortality," and think they "can't get sick, or get hurt, or die ... because people keep thinking this can't happen to me." Perrier concludes, "But HIV tosses all that out the window" (Blake, 12/2).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.