San Francisco’s HIV Rate Does Not Equate to Sub-Saharan African Rates, Op-Ed Says
"We simply are not witnessing HIV rates on par with the sub-Saharan [African] region," AIDS activist Michael Petrelis of AIDS-Statistics.com concludes in a San Francisco Examiner op-ed after comparing new HIV transmission data from the San Francisco Department of Public Health with transmission data from sub-Saharan African countries. On June 30, 2000, a DPH AIDS epidemiologist wrote in a San Francisco Chronicle article that the percentage of HIV-positive test results at city testing centers had almost tripled from 1.3% in 1997 to 3.7% in 1999, adding, "These numbers may seem small, but they are frightening to epidemiologists, who note that infection rates can grow like money with compound interest." However, new data from a HIV Counseling, Testing, Referral and Partner Counseling and Referral Services analysis shows a "startling drop" to 3.3% in HIV-positive test results from the same testing sites in 2000, Petrelis writes. According to UNAIDS' 2000 AIDS Epidemic Update, the estimated adult HIV rate for sub-Saharan Africa was 8.8% for the same period. Petrelis also examined the number of male rectal gonorrhea cases as an "indicator" fo HIV rates. According to Petrelis, monthly STD reports for April 2001 document 15 male rectal gonorrhea cases, compared with 14 cases in April 2000, and the total number of cases for the year to date show a "surge of five," from 61 in 2000 to 66 in 2001. "I would not characterize these numbers as either explosive or alarming," he writes. Petrelis concludes, "[S]ince the rectal gonorrhea rate is essentially flat, the number of HIV-positive test results at health clinics is down and full-blown AIDS cases continue to sink, we have real glimmers of hope that the apocalyptic phraseology used by an epidemiologist in the Chronicle last summer was more melodramatic than necessary" (Petrelis, San Francisco Examiner, 6/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.