Preliminary CDC Statistics Indicate That AIDS is ‘Still Alive’; ‘Value’ of Prevention Underestimated, Editorials Say
According to preliminary CDC statistics, the number of new AIDS cases rose last year after seven years of decline, showing that AIDS "remains ... deadly and precautions must continue to be practiced," a Denver Post editorial says. The statistics released last week show an 8% increase in new AIDS cases nationwide in 2001 as compared to new AIDS cases in 2000. Although researchers say that these "very raw" numbers are not an indication of a "new trend," the editorial says that it is still necessary to "spread the word that AIDS kills and risky behavior is just as out of fashion in the 2000s as it was in the 1990s." CDC officials report that the "majority" of the new AIDS cases are on the East Coast. "Nationwide trends commonly begin in the easternmost states and move westward," the editorial notes, adding that "[i]t is important that we in the Southwest and Mountain regions take heed of the warning and remind ourselves that there is still no known cure for the disease." Although people with HIV/AIDS no longer experience "rapid deterioration followed by certain death," the quality of life for HIV-positive individuals "diminishes greatly," and they can still spread the virus to others, "guarantee[ing] the repeating cycle of one of the most deadly diseases known to man," the editorial states. It concludes, "[T]here is no cure for AIDS. It's still alive, it can spread and it will kill. It must be fought with care, vigilance and knowledge" (Denver Post, 1/8).
More 'Inexpensive' Prevention Efforts Needed
The newly released CDC statistics combined with data from a study last month reporting that "more than half the North Americans with HIV are infected with a strain that is resistant" to more than one AIDS drug indicate that now is not the time to be "ignoran[t]," a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial states. While AIDS treatments are "expensive, costing $10,000 or more a year -- just for medications," prevention efforts are "inexpensive," the editorial says, adding that most state budgets "don't reflect the value" of prevention. For example, the editorial notes, Missouri spends millions of dollars on treating people with HIV/AIDS while spending "just a few hundred thousand dollars" in state funds on prevention efforts. "Now is the time to increase prevention efforts, before a new wave of AIDS sweeps through the region. We can turn our back on the disease. But ignorance won't make AIDS -- or the cost of treating it -- disappear," the editorial concludes (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/8).