HIV Outbreak Identified Among Black Male College Students in North Carolina; Probably Not Limited to State, Study Says
February 11, 2004
Public health officials have identified an HIV outbreak among black male college students in North Carolina, with the number of newly diagnosed cases suddenly increasing over the previous four years, according to a study presented on Tuesday at the 11th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports (Haney, AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 2/10). University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill researchers analyzed state HIV surveillance records for new diagnoses of HIV infection occurring between Jan. 1, 2001, and May 1, 2003, in males younger than age 30 living in 34 North Carolina counties. Researchers compared reported risk behavior and demographic information for newly diagnosed male college attendees with newly diagnosed non-college males (Study abstract, 2/10). The study began after the state Department of Health and Human Services identified two men attending different colleges in the same city who had recently become infected. Both of the men had high HIV viral loads but no antibodies to the virus, which is an indication of recent infection because the body usually produces antibodies about two weeks following infection, the Washington Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 2/11). Since November 2002, North Carolina has used a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test to detect early-stage HIV infections, according to the New York Times (Altman, New York Times, 2/11). Health department officials interviewed the two men, asking for the names of their sexual partners within the previous year (Washington Post, 2/11). Researchers found six HIV cases among male college students ages 18 to 30 in 2000; 19 cases in 2001; 29 in 2002 and 30 in 2003. Of the 84 total new cases during that period, 73, or 88%, were among black men, and 11, or 13%, were among white men, the Times reports.
New York City
A sharp increase in the number of new syphilis cases among gay men in San Francisco has not yielded a similar increase in HIV cases, according to another study presented at the conference, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/11). Researchers examined trends in HIV incidence among men who have sex with men in two HIV testing populations and rates of primary and secondary syphilis among an estimated 50,782 MSM in the city from 1998 through 2002 (Study abstract, 2/10). The study, which was presented by Kate Buchacz of CDC and conducted by researchers from CDC and the San Francisco Department of Public Health, demonstrated that although the number of syphilis cases reported in San Francisco increased from 40 a year to more than 600 a year between 1998 and 2003, HIV prevalence among gay male patients being treated for syphilis was "holding steady or even declining," according to the Chronicle. Willi McFarland, chief AIDS epidemiologist with the city's public health department, said, "We may have reached another turning point -- and for the better." However, Jeffrey Klausner, director of sexually transmitted disease control for the city public health department, said that he is not "ready to call a turn in the course of the epidemic," according to the Chronicle. He said, "I'd say we've reached a plateau. I'd have to wait and see if we have a downward trend" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/11).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.