HIV/AIDS-Related Deaths in Alaska Decreasing; Officials Credit Increased Access to Care, Treatment
HIV/AIDS-related deaths in Alaska have been decreasing over the past 10 years, according to a report conducted by the state Health and Social Services' Epidemiology Section, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Some state officials credit the decline to increased access to HIV/AIDS care and treatment, the Daily News reports. The report's researchers analyzed records from 1982 to 2006 of HIV cases and AIDS-related deaths in the state, the Daily News reports. According to the report, 40 to 55 new HIV cases are diagnosed annually in Alaska, and 48% of cases are among men who have sex with men. The report also found that 14% of cases are among injection drug users and 7% are among MSM who are IDUs. In addition, 14% of HIV cases were transmitted through heterosexual sex, and a few cases were transmitted vertically or through blood transfusions and transplants, the report found. Since 1982, Alaska has recorded 1,145 HIV cases, and 370 people have died from AIDS-related illnesses, the Daily News reports (Shinohara, Anchorage Daily News, 3/15). From 1985 to 1995, 20 to 39 people died annually from AIDS-related illnesses in the same year they were diagnosed as HIV-positive, the report found. From 2000 to 2006, two to six people died annually from AIDS-related illnesses in the same year they were diagnosed, except in 2005 when no deaths were recorded, the report found (Report text, 3/2). According to Wendy Craytor, state coordinator for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, the number of deaths began declining in 1996 when antiretroviral drugs became available. She added that the decrease in AIDS-related deaths is a "testament to the fact that [HIV-positive] people are getting care, and taking advantage of medical advances." Michael King -- director of prevention at Alaska AIDS Assistance Association, which the state contracted to provide HIV-positive people with access to no-cost or discounted antiretrovirals -- said that although more people need access to the drugs, the waiting list at the association is 13 people. "We've been very lucky," King said, adding, "We've been able to pretty much provide drugs to the people that need them" (Anchorage Daily News, 3/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.