‘Effective’ Prevention Methods Can Reduce Number of New HIV Cases, Opinion Piece Says
Although "effective preventive measures are available" to curb the spread of HIV, "approximately the same number" of new HIV cases were identified in the United States last year compared with previous years, Dr. Van Stitt, a vice president and chief medical officer at Gaston Memorial Hospital in North Carolina, writes in an opinion piece in the Charlotte Observer. According to CDC, more than 40,000 new cases of HIV are expected to be diagnosed in 2005, and about 30% of HIV-positive people do not know they are infected, Stitt says. However, that percentage could be reduced through the use of voluntary HIV counseling and testing and increasing the proportion of HIV-positive people who have access to appropriate prevention, care and treatment services, Stitt says. Other "key" preventive measures include providing male and female condoms, implementing sterile needle-exchange programs and drug treatment services, according to Stitt. In addition, sex education programs should include information on condoms, Stitt writes, adding that young people who "participate in HIV prevention programs that include access to condoms are not more likely to start or increase sexual activity." Stitt also says that "[e]arly diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection is critical to controlling the spread of the virus," adding, "It is the first step in improving the chance of survival." Stitt concludes, "If we are to reduce the untimely and unnecessary death and suffering of young adults, we need to prevent this disease. It is possible" (Stitt, Charlotte Observer, 9/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.