Iowa Prevention Efforts Target State Residents with HIV
HIV/AIDS is on the rise in central Iowa, and state and federal health officials are looking at how to tailor prevention efforts to stem the spread of the disease, the Des Moines Register reports. More than 1,000 people with HIV/AIDS are currently living in Iowa, marking the first time the state has surpassed 1,000 HIV-positive residents. The CDC and several Iowa outreach organizations are emphasizing HIV/AIDS prevention among people already infected with the virus. State officials say that many people with HIV "aren't getting tested soon enough" and may be contributing to the spread of the virus because they are unaware of their status. About three years ago, researchers discovered that "significant numbers" of people with HIV did not tell their sex partners of their HIV status. In one study, 40% of participants reported that they did not tell their partners of their HIV status, and nearly two-thirds of the participants stated that they "didn't always use condoms." In 1998, Iowa adopted an HIV reporting system that reports an HIV-positive test result to the state and to the individual's sex partner. That same year, Iowa lawmakers passed a law making "intentional exposure of HIV a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison," and two cases have since been tried under this law. But Randy Mayer, Iowa's HIV/AIDS surveillance coordinator, said that of individuals diagnosed with AIDS in 2000, almost 70% had been tested for HIV within the first six months of the onset of AIDS-related symptoms, compared to 1995, when only 57% of new AIDS cases received testing within the first six months of the onset of symptoms. Mayer said that the statistics suggest that more people are learning later that they have the disease. Dr. David Rogan of the Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines added that his facility is seeing a rise in the number of people with AIDS who do not know they are HIV-positive. Rogan said that until this year, it was "relatively unusual" to treat people with AIDS who had not been previously diagnosed with the disease. He added, "Unless something happens in the next few years, I think we're going to see a big jump [in AIDS-related deaths]." Dr. Jack Stapleton, head of the University Hospitals Virology Clinic in Iowa City, said that a rise in the number of AIDS-related deaths is likely as antiretroviral drugs "begin to lose their effect" for those taking them (Rood, Des Moines Register, 7/23). For more information on HIV/AIDS in Iowa, visit State Health Facts Online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.