Number of Newly Diagnosed HIV Cases Increases 17% Among MSM in 2002, CDC Report Says
The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases among men who have sex with men increased 17% in 2002 compared with statistics from 1999, according to statistics published in the Nov. 28 issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Washington Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 11/27). CDC researchers analyzed data from 29 states that conducted name-based HIV/AIDS surveillance between 1999 and 2002 and found that HIV had been diagnosed in 102,590 people during the four-year period. Researchers found that of the HIV patients diagnosed between 1999 and 2002, 72,323, or 70.5%, were male, and 30,264, or 29.5%, were female. In addition, the rate of new HIV diagnoses during that time period was greatest among non-Hispanic blacks, who accounted for 71.8% of all diagnoses in females and 48.6% of all diagnoses in males. CDC also found that although the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases between 1999 and 2002 did not increase among women, men saw an increase of 7.3% from 1999, according to the report (Hall et al., Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report, 11/28). In addition, the number of new HIV cases among Latinos between 1999 and 2002 increased by 26%, the New York Times reports. CDC said that African Americans still account 55% of cases -- more than any other demographic group -- and non-Hispanic whites account for 8% of cases (O'Connor, New York Times, 11/27).
The data indicate an "unusually steep rise" among Hispanic men for the first time, and almost 67% of the cases were reported in Hispanic men who have sex with men, the Post reports (Washington Post, 11/27). The report also noted that the statistics do not include data from some jurisdictions, including New York, California and Washington, D.C., that have a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS (Howard Price, Washington Times, 11/27). It is unclear whether the report indicates an increase in HIV infection because some cases are not diagnosed "immediately," the New York Times reports. Dr. Robert Janssen, head of the CDC's Division of HIV and AIDS, said that the study shows that the rate of testing has "stayed about the same" and that recently diagnosed HIV cases were "caught in the earlier stages," according to the New York Times. "We're seeing an increase in people with HIV but not necessarily an increase in simultaneous diagnoses of HIV and AIDS," Janssen said (New York Times, 11/27).
Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, said, "We need to remind not just the groups at risk, but the American public, that HIV and AIDS is not over in the United States," adding, "We have to continue to work with communities and medical care providers, to reinforce the importance of maintaining safer behaviors." Carole Bernard of the National Minority AIDS Council said, "The message of a decade ago may not be reaching the groups that are impacted today. What is needed, really, is 'HIV/AIDS 101,' explaining what the disease is, how it's transmitted and how people can protect themselves" (Washington Post, 11/27). Dr. Jeffrey Laurance, program consultant for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, said, "Even among populations targeted for outreach, it's as if people think they can become infected because there's a pill to take care of them. There needs to be a stronger message that it's not a picnic to be on these drugs and that even when you're being treated you can still transmit this disease" (New York Times, 11/27).