CDC announces sharp increase in U.S. HIV cases Agency says spike due to enhanced reporting; critics argue it shows prevention failures
By RYAN LEE, Southern Voice Mar 28, 12:45 PM
The number of people in the United States reported to have HIV increased by about 50 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to data released this week by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
In 2006, at least 52,878 Americans were reported having HIV, compared to 35,537 in 2005, according to the CDC's annual HIV/AIDS surveillance report. Experts said that part of the increase is due to large states like California and Illinois being included in the CDC's estimate for the first time, as well as increases in risky sexual behavior that are also being borne out in rising STD rates.
"The numbers are far higher than what's previously been reported," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles, in a teleconference Friday. "This means many more infections now and as far as the eye can see."
CDC officials were emphatic that the higher number of HIV cases reported "do not represent an increase in the epidemic."
"Instead, it's more about our surveillance system than any increase," CDC spokesperson Jennifer Ruth said Friday.
The CDC only recently tied HIV reporting to the amount of money states receive to fight HIV, meaning new numbers are beginning to come in as more states report HIV cases in compliance with CDC standards. In 2005, the CDC's HIV/AIDS surveillance report included data from 38 states and territories, compared to the 50 states and areas that contributed data to the 2006 surveillance report.
Georgia, which was one of the last states to conform to CDC's confidential name-based system for reporting HIV cases, ranked eighth in the number of HIV cases reported in 2006, according to the surveillance report.
The full scope of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Georgia is still unavailable due to the lag in reporting numbers, and it will be years until data trickles in from states to give CDC the most accurate picture of the epidemic in America, said Whitney Engeran, director of the public health division at AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
"We just don't know where this will end," Engeran said. "We could be seeing more and more numbers coming in from the CDC as more states come online, and, of course, that means more and more people being infected."
The increase in cases is occurring in the total number of HIV infections states report to the CDC, but other data suggests the actual prevalence of HIV is not rising, Ruth said.
"When you look at diagnoses by year, they remain stable for the last few years," Ruth said.
But the higher number of total cases is a "catastrophe" that reveals the misguided strategies of the government's HIV-prevention efforts, and the lack of CDC's leadership in marshaling a response to the epidemic, Weinstein said.
"The CDC has essentially hidden this information," said Weinstein, who believes that the dramatic increase in annual HIV infections will prompt a paradigm shift in how researchers view the disease's domestic impact.
"What are the implications of [the new higher estimate] in terms of human cost, financial cost and in terms of having an effective prevention campaign?" Weinstein said.
With all this finger pointing, it seems that valuable time has been lost in fighting the spread of HIV. Young gay men are most at risk, and it is a shame that due to a lack of better outreach, the old abstinence message has failed. Instead, there should be graphic instruction, using posters, erotic comics, soft porn, anything realistic that teaches them that it is sexy and indeed safer, to fuck with a condom hugging their erection. Safer sex using condoms is the ONLY way to fuck. NO ANDS, IFS OR BARE BACK BUTT FUCKS!!!!