California: Better Count Cited in Rise of AIDS Cases
January 13, 2003
After a decade of declines, the number of new AIDS cases reported in California increased 6 percent in 2002, to 4,437, according to the state Office of AIDS. In Los Angeles County, cases went up 32 percent, to 1,789.Adapted from:
State and local health officials attribute the increase to better disease reporting by doctors and clinics, not a failure of HIV drug treatments or a recent resurgence in high-risk behavior. Even so, the state stands to receive additional money to provide services to patients. The federal government bases its funding on each state's tally of AIDS cases, although as early as next year it will tie funding to HIV cases as well.
Many of the newly reported AIDS cases had been diagnosed in previous years but never reported. In fact, they probably were caught because the state began requiring medical providers to report HIV cases, beginning July 1.
Under the new system, California requires laboratories to automatically notify local health departments of every test that indicates HIV or AIDS infection. Health workers then seek additional information from medical providers. The lab system "basically becomes your surveillance system for AIDS cases," said Dr. Liza Solomon, director of the AIDS Administration office for Maryland's Health Department.
Since mandatory HIV reporting took effect, the state received 2,259 AIDS case reports, up 8 percent from the last six months of 2001. Other states experienced similar spikes in their AIDS case logs after they implemented HIV reporting. Massachusetts recorded 1,521 AIDS cases in its first year of HIV reporting, in 1999, compared with 997 a year before.
Because many of the newly reported AIDS cases in California were diagnosed years ago, state and local officials do not expect to see an increased demand for medical treatment and support services.
Los Angeles Times
01.11.03; Charles Ornstein
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.