Health Official Releases HIV, STI Data for Maryland County
Prince George's County in Maryland has the second-highest rate of reported HIV/AIDS cases statewide, County Health Officer Donald Shell announced on Tuesday, the Washington Post reports. The county also has the second-highest rate of sexually transmitted infections, Shell said, adding that only Baltimore is higher in both categories.
Prince George's County reported 5,240 HIV/AIDS cases in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available, according to Shell. He added that the county's proximity to Washington, D.C. -- which recently reported an HIV/AIDS prevalence of 3% -- has affected Prince George's. "There is no border line," he said, adding, "Our proximity puts us at greater risk." In addition, many county residents do not have access to health care -- about 151,000 do not have health coverage, and about 102,000 are on Medicaid, Shell said.
According to Shell, the county also has seen a "resurgence" in syphilis cases. In 1998, the county reported 6.6 cases per 100,000 people, compared with 11.2 cases per 100,000 people in 2007. Although Shell reported rates for several STIs, the department did not provide data to support the claim that the county has Maryland's second-highest rate overall, the Post reports.
According to Shell, the rates of HIV/AIDS and other STIs in Prince George's County can be attributed in part to a lack of safer-sex practices, particularly during heterosexual intercourse. Shell said that he has been surprised by the response he receives from college students. "They don't care about condom usage or about their partners," he said, adding, "There is a blatant disregard that anything is going to happen to them" (Wiggins, Washington Post, 3/25).