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Local and Community News

Los Angeles AIDS-Related Infections Plummet

March 21, 2002

The wide distribution of antiretroviral drugs over the past five years has resulted in a significant decline in AIDS-related opportunistic infections (OIs) in Los Angeles County, researchers said yesterday at an American Foundation for AIDS Research meeting in San Francisco. The benefits of the drug therapy, however, have not reached all populations equally: African- Americans, Latinos and intravenous drug users are still at disproportionate risk for the infections.

Before the arrival of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), opportunistic infections were usually the cause of death for AIDS patients. Los Angeles County Department of Health Services researchers analyzed the records of 2,201 patients with HIV who received care at four clinics from 1993 to 2000. They found AIDS-defining opportunistic infections have declined steadily since antiretroviral drugs were first made available in 1994. By 2000, the study said, the OI rate had dropped by 90 percent from 1994.

The researchers found that women faired better than men, and that whites experienced a lower rate of OIs than African- Americans and Latinos. Injecting drug users had the highest rates of OIs; in fact, they experienced lower rates of OIs in the pre-HAART era.

"I'm not sure why this is the case," said lead author Jane Turner of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, HIV Epidemiology Program. "I'm thinking that maybe they are not being prescribed HAART as often as other groups or that they are not adhering to their therapy."

Health service providers were surprised by the finding that women had lower OI rates then men, because previous studies had found the opposite to be true. Less research is available on how HIV affects women, and therefore health providers have been less successful in diagnosing the disease before an OI attacks. "That trend is probably reflective of the fact that we have put extra efforts into reaching out to women who are impacted by HIV and we're getting some return on that investment," said Lee Klosinski, director of programs at AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Back to other CDC news for March 21, 2002

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Adapted from:
United Press International
03.20.02; Koren Capozza

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.