Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Massachusetts AIDS Deaths Up in 1999, State Health Department Reports
Massachusetts recorded a 7% increase in the number of
AIDS-related deaths in 1999, according to a report released Tuesday by the state Department of Public Health, the Boston Herald reports. The number of AIDS-related deaths grew from 213 in 1998 to 242 in 1999, although the total is still the second-lowest total since the number of deaths peaked in 1994. "Relative to four years ago, we're still in a huge decline. We had three times as many [people] die in 1996 as we did in 1999," Jean Maguire, director of the state's AIDS bureau, said. The increase "may be in line with a national trend," as other regions have reported an increase in AIDS-related deaths, but health officials cannot definitively explain the increase. Maguire speculated that the rise could be due to treatment failure, patients entering treatment late or co-infection with
hepatitis C. Both HIV and hepatitis C are spread through intravenous drug use and sexual contact, but hepatitis C can take 20 years to result in liver problems, whereas HIV leads to AIDS in an average of 10 years. Between 60% and 90% of patients at state drug clinics are infected with hepatitis C, while nearly half have HIV, Maguire said (Lasalandra, Boston Herald, 3/28).
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