Wisconsin Reports Increase in AIDS, HIV Cases
Newly diagnosed AIDS and HIV cases and AIDS deaths all rose in Wisconsin last year after declining or "holding steady" in the previous few years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The report comes amid news of "high numbers of new infections" from other big cities, causing some to worry that the HIV epidemic "may be rebounding." Newly diagnosed HIV infections in Wisconsin increased 14% in 2000 to 265, up from 233 in 1999. AIDS case diagnoses also rose from 157 to 172, a 10% increase, over the same time period, and AIDS-related deaths rose from 88 in 1999 to 98 in 2000. The number of reported AIDS cases rose from 228 in 1999 to 336 in 2000, but state officials say that the "true increase is not as dramatic as those figures suggest," and the large increase stems from a "one-time" nationwide search of death certificates by state officials to find people who had been diagnosed with HIV in Wisconsin and moved and later died of AIDS in other states. The actual number of reported in-state AIDS cases rose by 41. Wisconsin "still has a relatively low AIDS prevalence rate, the eighth lowest in the nation," James Vergeront, a doctor who heads the state's HIV program, said. But the "trend," not the numbers, is the "point" of the study, he added. Doug Nelson, executive director of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, called the report "very troubling." While Vergeront said that the numbers are "much lower than the numbers before modern drug treatments delayed the progression from HIV to AIDS," Nelson remained "very concerned" that the numbers may represent treatment failures or "individuals accessing testing late in disease progression." Ian Gilson, a Milwaukee doctor treating more than 100 patients with HIV, said there does not appear to be increased treatment failure among his patients and added that "[t]he cases we have don't tend to be progressing" (Marchione, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.