Akron Beacon Journal Profiles Growing Complacency About AIDS Among ‘Key’ Demographic Populations
The Akron Beacon Journal on Monday profiled the growing complacency about AIDS among "key" demographic populations in Ohio. In 2002, the number of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men nationwide increased for the the third year in a row, according to CDC statistics, while the number of new cases among other groups remained steady or declined. Because local and state statistics are not updated as quickly the CDC's statistics, it is difficult to determine if national increases in new HIV diagnoses among MSM hold true in Ohio, according to the Beacon Journal. However, anecdotal evidence shows that as the fear of contracting HIV has decreased with the advent of effective drug regimens, so has the emphasis on prevention, the Beacon Journal reports. Women in the state have also been "lulled into a false sense of security," according to Dr. Jeff Vasiloff, chief of HIV/AIDS prevention for the Ohio Department of Health. Women in Ohio have surpassed injection drug users as the second-highest risk group for contracting HIV, according to Danette Stanko, chief of HIV/AIDS surveillance for the state health department. "The virus doesn't discriminate," Vasiloff said, adding, "But there's that belief out there that if you're not (gay or bisexual), you're not going to get it, and that's worrisome, especially with women." According to Stanko, nearly 70% of Ohio's HIV/AIDS cases are reported without information on risk factors; therefore, the state collects information on syphilis cases, which can gauge risky behavior. "There are syphilis outbreaks in a lot of urban centers among (gay and bisexual men)," Vasiloff said, adding, "If you're getting syphilis, you're not practicing safe sex, so you're just as likely to get HIV" (Wheeler, Akron Beacon Journal, 11/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.