Columbia, S.C., Ranks 8th in U.S. AIDS Cases, Improvement over Last Year
According to a CDC report released last Wednesday, Columbia, S.C., has the eighth-highest rate of AIDS cases among similar metropolitan areas in the U.S, the Columbia State reports. The HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report states that between July 1999 and June 2000, the AIDS rate in the metropolitan area was 39.7 cases per 100,000 people, an improvement over the city's 1999 rate of 47.1 cases per 100,000 people, figures that had placed Columbia seventh among U.S. metropolitan areas with populations over 500,000, including "AIDS hot-spots" like New York and San Francisco. CDC officials announced in June that Columbia had the fourth-highest rate based on the calendar year, but the new report ranks cities over the fiscal year of July through June. The results pleased John Barnhart, coordinator of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program, but he noted, "We've still got a problem, though. We're still up there with a lot of big cities." Several factors may have influenced the drop in cases. The survey included prisoners with AIDS for the first time last year because of a 1998 requirement, a source of a potential "spike" in the statistics. Advocates would like to think that the drop is attributable to better outreach programs, particularly in minority communities that are "increasingly susceptible," the State reports. Carmen Julious, director of Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services, said he hoped that the drop in numbers "means we're getting the prevention message out to people who have not heard it and need to hear it." She added that the group has increased its efforts with minority groups over the past years. South Carolina still ranks sixth among states for a cumulative HIV/AIDS rate (Winiarski, Columbia State, 12/12). Cities ranking above Columbia in AIDS rate include New York, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, San Francisco, West Palm Beach, Fla., Jersey City and Newark, N.J. (CDC, HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report Midyear Edition, 12/2000).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.