New Mandatory HIV Reporting System Shows an ‘Alarming’ Number of Cases on Long Island
From July 1, 2000 -- when New York state's new mandatory HIV reporting system became operable -- to the end of last year, 769 Long Island residents have tested positive for HIV, providing an "alarming glimpse" into the state of the epidemic in the region, Newsday reports. The figures are only preliminary, and officials are "hesitant to draw any conclusions" about the data because they do not have comparison statistics. Statewide numbers may be released next week, and that data should contain more detailed demographic information about how the disease is spreading and who is at greatest risk, local health officials said.
Not the End
Although officials did not draw conclusions, they said that the preliminary figures indicated that the "epidemic is not over." Long Island has recorded 6,565 AIDS cases since 1981, and the disease is the leading cause of death among residents between the ages of 25 and 44. Officials are "seeing two HIV cases for every AIDS case," Suffolk County Health Commissioner Clare Bradley said, adding, "You can't become complacent with a disease that hasn't gone away and for which there is no cure." Nassau County Health Commissioner David Ackman agreed, saying, "We are not out of the woods by any means. We need to change public perception about this. There is still an epidemic going on." However, fighting HIV/AIDS may become more difficult as Long Island faces a 5% reduction in federal Ryan White funds and state budget cuts on community-based HIV/AIDS services. HIV/AIDS advocates had sought an additional $12 million from the state to spend on programs targeting minorities, but they are now fighting just to restore a $7.9 million cut in funding. Although minorities account for less than 20% of Long Island's population, they make up 48% of the region's AIDS cases, according to the Nassau-Suffolk HIV/AIDS Policy Advisory Committee (Rabin, Newsday, 4/25).