Number of New HIV/AIDS Cases Continues To Rise in Alabama; Most Cases Among Heterosexual Blacks
The number of new HIV/AIDS cases in Alabama continues to rise at a "steady rate" of about 700 per year, and the majority of cases are among low-income, heterosexual blacks, the Associated Press reports. About 57% of the new HIV/AIDS cases are among heterosexual blacks and about 40% of those are among heterosexual black women, according to James Waid, an AIDS outreach coordinator. Waid said that in the past, most new HIV/AIDS cases occured among gay white men but the trend changed in the late 1990s, when heterosexual blacks began representing the majority of cases. "It had to cross over from 'a gay disease' into the heterosexual population," Waid said, adding, "These were people who say they are heterosexual but also have homosexual contact." Waid said the cause of the spread of the disease in the black community can mostly be attributed to unprotected sex. The state allocated $2.9 million last year and received more than $10 million dollars in federal matching funds to provide services and antiretroviral drugs for low-income individuals. Waid said that the state Legislature will have to spend $4.1 million this year in order to receive enough federal money to provide adequate care. According to state Rep. Laura Hall (D), there is no statewide HIV/AIDS prevention education program. "Certainly (prevention) is the next area we need to concentrate on," Hall said (Bryan, Associated Press, 2/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.