A state report released to coincide with World AIDS Day demonstrates through data the improvements in HIV/AIDS medical care.
Though the number of people living with HIV/AIDS increased from 1988 to 2008, fewer patients were hospitalized with related complications -- highlighting the effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment, said Stephanie Clendenin, acting director of the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Meanwhile, the percentage of HIV/AIDS patients who died in hospitals dropped from 13 percent in 1988 to 5 percent in 2008.
But at a news conference, health officials warned that the state figures show the disproportionate impact the virus is having on black and Latino residents. Nearly 38 percent of those diagnosed with HIV in 2009 were Latino, a 30 percent increase from the year before, said Dr. Karen Mark, acting chief of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)'s Office of AIDS.
Furthermore, many Latinos had already progressed to AIDS by the time they first tested HIV-positive. "I think for some Hispanics, not all, but some, there are issues around language, access, and health literacy," Mark said. "The more we can get the word out around testing for HIV, the better it is."
The number of Californians living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2009 was estimated to be 121,619, said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of CDPH. "We've come a long way since" the beginning of the epidemic, he noted. "There have been miraculous advances in treatment, yet today we still have a long ways to go."
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