Iowa Records 127 New HIV Cases in 2007, Highest Number Since 1998, Health Department Report Says
Iowa recorded 127 new HIV cases in 2007, a 12% increase from the 113 cases reported in 2006 and the highest number since the state began recording HIV/AIDS cases in 1998, according to a recently released Iowa Department of Public Health report, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports.
According to the report, 106 of the new cases, or 83%, occurred among men, and men who have sex with men were the highest-risk group in the state. Heterosexual contact was the second most common mode of transmission. New HIV diagnoses among men ages 45 and older have more than doubled from 18 in 2003 to 41 in 2007. Randy Mayer, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis program manager at the department, said that "late testing" -- or testing several years after transmission -- is the primary reason for the increase in older men.
The report also found a disproportionate number of cases among blacks, who represented 20% of new HIV diagnoses last year but account for only 2.5% of the state's population. Whites continue to account for the majority of new cases, representing 70% and 65% of new HIV and AIDS cases, respectively, in 2007, according to the department. At the end of 2007, 1,548 Iowans who were state residents at the time of diagnosis were living with HIV/AIDS.
Mayer said the increase in HIV cases likely is a "true increase" and not the result of increased HIV testing. More than 8,000 state residents were tested for HIV last year, the Gazette reports. Mayer said that a rise in risky sexual behavior, apathy about HIV/AIDS and the role of the Internet in finding sex partners are fueling the increase.
The health department is funding several HIV prevention projects aimed at MSM to help stem the increase. The moMENtum program, conducted by Johnson County Public Health, provides outreach support and peer discussion to increase prevention activities (Hadish, Cedar Rapids Gazette, 4/23). A separate program conducted by the AIDS Project of Central Iowa is targeting black MSM and examines cultural, social and religious factors specific to black men.
Tom Newton, director of the health department, said that although the state has a "relatively low number of HIV infections when compared with other states, the upward trending is something we take very seriously." He added that the department wants to "encourage testing because early diagnosis means early treatment and a better outcome" (IDPH release, 4/23).
The report is available online (.pdf).