CDC Releases Mid-Year HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report; Overall AIDS Cases Continued to Decline Through 2000
The CDC on Friday released its finalized mid-year HIV/AIDS surveillance report, which includes updated statistics on AIDS incidence trends from 1996 through 2000. According to the report, the estimated annual number of AIDS cases diagnosed in the United States "declined substantially" from 1996 to 1999, but declines "slowed" during 1999 and 2000, with the number of new diagnoses in 2000 only 1.4% lower than 1999. The number of AIDS-related deaths declined 11% from 1999 to 2000. However, this decline was not as dramatic as the 42% reduction seen from 1996 to 1997 after the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy. The number of people living with AIDS in the United States increased 7.9% from 1999 to 2000, with the CDC estimating that about 339,000 Americans were living with the disease by the end of 2000. Of those people, 41% were black, 38% were white, 20% were Hispanic, 1% were Asian/Pacific Islander and 1% were American Indian/Alaska Native. These figures represent a change in the "composition of the epidemic," according to the CDC, which also noted that women are now becoming infected at a higher rate than previously seen and infection through heterosexual contact is rising. The finalized figures for 2000 were delayed because they had to be "statistically adjusted to account for delays in reporting and the anticipated reclassification of exposure mode for cases initially reported without risk." At least two reporting quarters were needed to make these adjustments. The report also includes cases reported through June 2001 but does not use them when drawing conclusions about incidence trends. The full report, including state-by-state tables and data broken down by major U.S. cities, is available online ("HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report: Midyear 2001 Edition," 2/22).
Houston-Area AIDS Rate Climbed 39%
According to the report, the AIDS rate in the Houston metropolitan area climbed by almost 39% from June 2000 to June 2001, the Houston Chronicle reports. Two hundred seventy-five new AIDS cases were diagnosed over that time period, bringing the city's AIDS rate to 21.2 cases per 100,000, up from 15.3 cases per 100,000 in June 2000. Ahmed Adu-Oppong, director of the Thomas Street Clinic, an HIV/AIDS care provider affiliated with the Harris County Hospital District, said the dramatic increase may be attributable to more widespread testing in the wake of Mayor Lee Brown's (D) HIV/AIDS "State of Emergency" declaration in 1999. Brown called for increased HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention efforts after reports that blacks represented more than 60% of Harris County's new HIV infections. According to Adu-Oppong, many of the people being tested for the first time in the wake of Lee's declaration were already "so advanced in their infection" that they qualified as having AIDS instead of just HIV. "We're not going to see that kind of increase next year, provided we continue the awareness campaign," Adu-Oppong explained, adding that if people can be tested early, "it will take a longer time before they enter the AIDS category." AIDS is defined as having an HIV infection and at least one of a "number of other problems," such as wasting, recurrent pneumonia or low CD4+ T cell counts. Blacks continue to make up the majority of new AIDS cases in the Houston area, accounting for 34% of AIDS cases overall and 59% of HIV diagnoses, while Hispanics make up 15% of AIDS cases and 16% of HIV diagnoses. "In AIDS by ethnicity and year of diagnosis, we have seen blacks climbing and fairly dramatically, Hispanics climbing less dramatically and whites going down dramatically over the years," Kathy Barton, a spokesperson for the city's Department of Health and Human Services, said. Houston -- with 19,000 AIDS cases -- ranks eighth among metropolitan areas in the United States (Hopper, Houston Chronicle, 2/23).