Kentucky Health Officials Report Increase in HIV/AIDS Cases in Louisville
Health officials in Kentucky on Wednesday reported an increase in the number of new HIV/AIDS cases recorded in Louisville between 2006 and 2007, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. According to state health officials, new HIV diagnoses in Louisville increased by 11% between 2006 and 2007, from 155 to 172, and new AIDS diagnoses increased from 86 to 97 in the same period. New HIV diagnoses statewide decreased from 347 in 2006 to 327 in 2007, and new AIDS diagnoses decreased from 215 to 201, the Courier-Journal reports. The total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Louisville was 1,136 in 2007, a 59% increase from 714 in 2001.
According to some experts, one explanation for the rise in recorded HIV cases in Louisville is the effort to increase routine testing at family health centers. Another factor experts cite is an increase in the number of people practicing unsafe sex because HIV/AIDS increasingly is seen as a chronic, manageable condition, according to the Courier-Journal. Brad Hampton, event director for the Louisville AIDS Walk, said that "epidemic fatigue" is another contributing factor, adding that young people do not take as many preventive measures because they "believe HIV is no big deal anymore, that people aren't dying anymore. The medicine has made tremendous advances, but we're not there yet."
As the number of newly recorded HIV/AIDS cases is increasing in Louisville, state and federal programs for people living with AIDS are seeing less funding, the Courier-Journal reports. Deborah Wade -- program director for the WINGS Clinic, a University of Louisville center for people living with HIV -- said she and others have felt the "crunch" in funding as addressing the virus becomes more difficult, the Courier-Journal reports. According to Sigga Jagne, coordinator of Kentucky's HIV/AIDS program, the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program -- which serves 1,200 HIV-positive people statewide -- received $4.37 million in funding this year, compared with the $4.64 million it received last year. In addition, state funding -- which provided the state's ADAP with $250,000 last year -- was absent this year. The program has seen an increase in the number of new applicants but expects to have to reinstate a waiting list in April that was eliminated in 2006, according to Jagne. Budget issues also have affected fundraising initiatives in Louisville, including the Louisville AIDS Walk (Ungar, Louisville Courier-Journal, 10/16).