HIV Infections Among Gay Men in British Columbia Increased by 9% in 2000 After Six-Year Decline
The number of HIV infections among gay men in British Columbia increased by 9% in 2000 after six years of steady decline, the Canadian Press reports. The new statistics, which were issued by the British Columbia Centre of Disease Control, indicate certain behavior patterns among gay men in the province, Rick Barnes of AIDS Vancouver said. "People aren't talking about HIV," he said, adding, "They have the feeling that AIDS is old news." Barnes said that antiretroviral drugs and the recent decline of AIDS-related deaths in North America have created a "false sense of security" and a "sense of complacency" about the disease (Canadian Press, 2/17). AIDS Vancouver said it is launching a new HIV prevention campaign utilizing television, radio and billboards to deliver anti-AIDS messages (Associated Press, 2/17).
Addition of HIV to List of Reportable Diseases
British Columbia Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall said on Friday that HIV should be added to the province's list of reportable diseases, the Vancouver Sun reports. The controversial proposal would allow health officials to inform an HIV-positive person's current or former sex or intravenous drug use partners that they may have been exposed to the virus. However, participation in the system would be voluntary; a person diagnosed with HIV infection would not have to disclose the names of such partners if they did not wish to do so. Kendall said that the name of the HIV-positive person would not be given to partners upon notification. He added that people who may have been exposed to HIV "appreciate being informed" that they might have contracted the virus. Critics, however, say the proposal is "an invasion of privacy that has questionable medical benefits." Glen Hillson, chair of the British Columbia Persons With AIDS Society, said that partner notification would discourage people from getting tested for HIV, adding that resources for the proposal would be better spent on HIV prevention campaigns. Kendall said that although the proposal is an invasion of privacy, it is "a valid intrusion" because it "balanc[es] individual rights with group rights." The proposal was sent to British Columbia Health Planning Minister Sindi Hawkins (Beatty, Vancouver Sun, 2/16).