AIDS is ‘Far From Over,’ U.S. News & World Report Says
"It will take a lot more than [a] White House offic[e] to solve the new HIV crisis," U.S. News & World Report reports, referring to last week's confusion regarding the mistaken announcement that Bush planned to close the Office of National AIDS Policy. In a roundup of recent AIDS news, U.S. News reports on the study released last week at the 8th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections revealing the "shocking" news that one in three young gay African-American men is HIV-positive. The survey of 2,000 young gay men found that 7% of white, 15% of Hispanic and 30% of African-American gay men are HIV-positive, but only a third of those infected are aware of their status. Epidemiologists at the conference said they are seeing a "disturbing increase in all kinds of risky behavior," despite nearly 20 years of safe-sex messages, and concluded that HIV infection rates may be increasing after "long holding steady" at about 40,000 new cases a year. CDC officials also announced a new campaign aimed at halving HIV infection rates by 2005 through efforts aimed at increasing testing and making people aware of their serostatus, hoping that status awareness will curb the spread of the disease. But a recent study in the Bronx found that "behavior changes made after diagnosis may not last." U.S. News reports that young gay men have "grown weary of safe-sex messages," adding that antiretroviral therapy makes them think that HIV is "no big deal." However, Demetri Moshoyannis, head of Bay Positives, a San Francisco Bay area support group for people with HIV, calls this characterization "a little too simplistic," adding, "Most of the time there are self-esteem issues involved, mental health issues involved, substance-abuse issues involved." While 10% of Americans living with HIV control the virus with drugs, "many others either go without treatment or take medicines inconsistently." Emory University's Carlos del Rio said that the question should not be "Can we do better," but "Can we afford not to do better?" (Boyce, U.S. News & World Report, 2/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.