Number of North Carolina AIDS Cases Increases 16.4% From 2001 to 2002, State Health Department Says
The number of new AIDS cases in North Carolina increased from 871 in 2001 to 1,014 in 2002, representing a 16.4% increase, the Winston-Salem Journal reports (Deaver, Winston-Salem Journal, 1/27). Forty-nine percent of the AIDS cases reported in 2002 were among people who were not previously known to the state's public health agencies, while the remaining new cases were among HIV-positive individuals known to health agencies whose HIV infection progressed to AIDS during 2002. The report attributed the rise in the number of new cases to "changes in HIV treatment effectiveness over time, the expected progression of the disease for the high number of individuals infected during the mid 1990s and enhanced surveillance efforts to better capture report information" (AIDS Case Report for 2002, North Carolina, January 2003). Dr. Leah Devlin, state health director, also attributed the rise in new AIDS cases to the closure of North Carolina's AIDS Drug Assistance Program. The state's ADAP, which provides antiretroviral drugs to low-income people who are otherwise unable to obtain the treatment, was closed to new enrollees in November 2002 and now has a waiting list of more than 175 people (North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services release, 1/22). The report noted that in 2002, 44.4% of new AIDS cases occurred among black males, 24.5% occurred among black females, and 19.5% of new AIDS cases occurred among white non-Hispanic men (AIDS Case Report for 2002, North Carolina, January 2003). "This epidemic is not under control. We're moving in the wrong direction with respect to new reports. The South has more persons living with AIDS than other geographic areas in the nation. North Carolina is part of this trend. Additionally, the disparity in health status between our minority communities and the general population is the greatest for HIV/AIDS," Devlin said (NCDHHS release, 1/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.