Reported AIDS Cases Up in 2000 for Nebraska, Iowa
The number of reported AIDS cases in Nebraska rose in 2000 for the first time in five years, while Iowa saw its second consecutive year with an increase, the Omaha World-Herald reports. But while state health officials called the increases "alarming," they said that the AIDS numbers "can be deceiving." Tina Brubaker, who oversees Nebraska's HIV/AIDS surveillance, said, "We have to remember that in the grand scope of this disease, we still generally have a small number of cases reported each year. An increase of 10 cases looks like a big jump when you look at percentages." Nebraska had 79 AIDS cases reported last year -- 13 more than in 1999 -- representing a 17% increase. In Iowa, 94 AIDS cases were reported in 2000 -- nine more than in 1999 -- marking a 10% rise. Prior to 2000, Nebraska's AIDS cases had dropped each year since 1996, including a 21% decrease in 1998. The number of AIDS cases also declined in Iowa in 1998, but the number of reported cases in the state has "cre[pt] higher since then." According to Randy Mayer, Iowa's HIV/AIDS surveillance coordinator, the state "has become more vigilant in its surveillance of AIDS cases" in recent years, which may "be playing a role in the numbers." He said, "Because we are getting results directly from laboratories now, we've found cases of AIDS and HIV in the state that we didn't know we had." In addition, Mayer said that HIV patients often cannot "keep up" with drug therapy regimens, or the drugs "become less effective," which may prompt an increase in the number of AIDS cases. "AIDS numbers tell us more about treatment strategies than anything else," Mayer said, adding, "They don't give us a good idea about new HIV infections." Last year, Nebraska had 60 new reported cases of HIV, a drop from 72 in 1999. Iowa had 123 new HIV cases in 2000, down from 175 in 1999 (Rosman, Omaha World-Herald, 4/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.