Number of New HIV/AIDS Cases Drop in West Virginia; Officials Worried Education Efforts Not Reaching Young People
The number of new HIV/AIDS cases reported in West Virginia has decreased slightly since 2003, but health officials are concerned that public education campaigns are not effective, the AP/Charleston Gazette reports. The state recorded 65 new HIV/AIDS cases during the first six months of 2005, compared with 139 cases in all of 2004 and 158 cases in 2003, according to state epidemiologist Loretta Haddy. Ten of the 27 native West Virginians who tested HIV-positive during the first six months of this year were between the ages of 20 and 29. "There are young people out there who think they are invincible," Haddy said, adding that some people might have become complacent about HIV/AIDS because of effective antiretroviral treatment. "We're now dealing with a generation that hasn't seen people die of HIV and AIDS" the way people did in the 1980s and 1990s, Arif Sarwari, an infectious disease specialist and director of West Virginia University's Positive Health Clinic, said, adding, "The impact of the [prevention] message decreases when you don't have a direct exposure to the effects of HIV." Haddy called for better education about high-risk sexual behavior and injection drug use. Sarwari said that "something needs to be done beyond education" (AP/Charleston Gazette, 9/16).
State Should Publicize STD Statistics, Editorial Says
Knowing the number of HIV-positive people living in each county likely would "prompt some West Virginians to be more careful in their choices concerning sex," a Wheeling News-Register editorial says. However, state officials have refused to publicize the statistics on sexually transmitted disease cases by county, citing privacy concerns, according to the Register. Publicizing specific numbers would not invade privacy but instead would give county residents "a better idea of the magnitude of the problem in their communities," the Register says, concluding that state officials need to stop being "more concerned about political correctness" than they are about HIV/AIDS (Wheeling News-Register, 9/17).