HIV Prevention Saves Lives
, a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), examines the changing face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This report aims to refocus public attention on what remains a critical public health imperative -- the ongoing need to prevent the spread of HIV.
Incidence and Prevelance
- Between 800,000 and 900,000 people are living with HIV in the U.S. Each year, at least 40,000 Americans are estimated to contract the virus -- a rate that has remained roughly stable since about 1992. Half of all new infections are believed to occur in people below age 25.
People of Color
- African-Americans are estimated to account for over half of all new HIV infections, and are nearly 10 times more likely than Whites to be diagnosed with AIDS.
- Latinos are estimated to account for 20% of all new HIV infections and AIDS cases are nearly four times more likely than Whites to be diagnosed with AIDS.
- Men who have sex with men (MSM) are estimated to account for more than 40% of all new HIV infections, and approximately 60% of new HIV infections among men.
- While White MSM continue to account for more than one in four AIDS diagnoses, in 1998, the number of MSM of color diagnosed with AIDS surpassed, for the first time, the number of White MSM's living with AIDS.
- Heterosexuals account for about one in three new HIV infections and 75% of new HIV infections are among women.
Injection Drug Use/ers (IDU/IDUs)
- Injection drug users make up an estimated 25% of all new HIV infections. The CDC points out that injection drug users contribute to the epidemic's spread far beyond the circles of those who inject through other risk behaviors including sexual activity.
Proven HIV Prevention Strategies
Prevention programs have been found to be effective in subgroups at increased risk such as communities of color, young people, gay men, injection drug users, women, and heterosexual adults.
Communities of Color
Be Proud! Be Responsible! -- a program designed for African-American youth has been proven successful at increasing condom use and reducing the number of new sexual partners.
Adolescents Living Safely: Awareness, Attitude, and Action, a multiple-session program that seeks to improve homeless youth's HIV-related knowledge. It has resulted in a substantial increase in consistent condom use and a reduction in high-risk sexual behavior among sexually active street youth.
- A 1999 research study by Rotheram-Borus and Lee found that an education program for HIV-positive youth resulted in a 78% increase in consistent condom use, fewer sex partners for more than 40% of participants, and a decrease in substance abuse for nearly one in three participants.
- Researchers at the University of California reported that a series of three, 3-hour workshops for African-American gay and bisexual men reduced reported instances of unprotected anal intercourse by more than 50%.
- Participants in MPowerment Project, a multi-component intervention for young gay men at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, reduced self-reported unprotected anal intercourse by 27%.
Injection Drug Users
- Research shows that the AIDS Community Demonstration Projects, which enable injection drug users to learn successful risk-reduction strategies from each other, led to significant increases in condom use among participants.
- The state of Connecticut reported significant reduction in the sharing of drug injection equipment after the implementation of policies that increased access to sterile injection equipment through pharmacies and other outlets.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that needle exchange programs "can be an effective component of a comprehensive strategy to prevent HIV and other blood-borne infectious disease in communities that choose to include them."
- African-American women who participated in a five-session program focusing on such issues as personal responsibility, assertiveness in sexual situations, and coping skills were significantly more likely to report consistent condom use.
- According to a 1997 review of the prevention science literature, 22 interventions for heterosexual adults have demonstrated positive behavior changes in participants. Heterosexual participants in HIV-prevention programs typically increased their condom use by 20 to 30%.
New and Future Prevention Strategies
- Combination antiviral therapy made possible in the mid-1990s by the emergence of protease inhibitors has helped slash rates of AIDS-related illness and death.
- Researchers and scientists worldwide are working to evaluate the efficacy of female condoms and develop effective topical microbicides that can kill HIV and pathogens that cause other STDs.
- The CDC is integrally involved in the search for an effective HIV vaccine to end the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The CDC concludes that by focusing on proven HIV-prevention programs and substantially increasing efforts to reach HIV-infected individuals, the U.S. epidemic can be stopped. Furthermore, the CDC explains that, with existing knowledge, sustained prevention for populations currently at risk, and adequate resources to reach infected individuals (including those currently unaware of their infection) with testing, prevention services, and care, U.S. infections could be significantly reduced over the next five years.
The CDC notes that, in our fight to conquer AIDS, we stand at a critical crossroad. Either the nation will move beyond complacency to take advantage of proven strategies and new prevention tools, or we will witness an escalation in new infections and the potential spread of a drug-resistant virus. Public health demands that we invest in a re-energized, science-driven effort to reduce the spread of HIV-as does our national conscience.
For more information:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, N.E. (E07) Atlanta, GA 30333; Phone: 800/458-5231 to receive copies.
Ryan White National Youth Conference on HIV and AIDS, sponsored by the National Association of People of AIDS (NAPWA), is scheduled for February 17-19 in Denver, CO. This conference is dedicated to building the skills of young AIDS activists, youth peer educators, and those who work in support of young people. The goal of the conference is to increase awareness about the threat HIV infection poses to young people, to identify and share effective resources to help the fight against HIV among young people, and to comprehensively develop youth appropriate services for those who are infected or at risk.
Registration is $135 for youth; $195 for adults; $50 for day pass.
For more information:
RWNYC 2001, 1413 K Street, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005; Phone: 202/898-0414, extension 126; Fax: 202/898-0435; Web site: http://www.napwa.org; E-mail: email@example.com
The Fourth Annual European Study Tour: European Approaches to Adolescent Sexual Behavior and Responsibility, sponsored by Advocates for Youth and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is scheduled for June 9-25. The organization will select 25 participants to explore and identify strategies, programs, and policies in the Netherlands, France, and Germany that have influenced adolescent sexual behavior.
Cost: $3,300, double occupancy ($500, single room supplement). Deadline for applications is February 15.
For more information:
Barbara Huberman, Advocates for Youth, 1025 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Suite 200, Washington, DC; Phone: 202/347-5700; Fax: 202/347-2263; Web site: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org