New HIV Infection Figures From CDC Underscore Need for National AIDS Strategy for the U.S.
August 2, 2008
The new HIV infection figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) increase the estimate of new HIV infections from 40,000 to 56,000 annually, with a range of 48,200 to 64,500. Derived from laboratory data collected in Illinois and 21 other states in 2006, the higher estimate demonstrates that the HIV infection rate is not falling and may very possibly be increasing significantly.
The new estimates are published in the Aug. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and will be presented publicly tomorrow at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. The revision also includes a back-calculation revealing that, for the last 15 years, infection rates were approximately 25 to 50 percent higher than the long-held 40,000 annual estimate. This figure is known as incidence, while the overall number of people living with HIV is known as prevalence.
The CDC estimates reveal a steady rise in infections occurring since the early 1990s, with increases primarily among gay men and African Americans.
The revised estimates of new HIV infections occurring in 2006 also reveal that:
"These new estimates paint a soberingly accurate portrait of the AIDS epidemic and reveal an utter lack of investment in prevention research and programs, especially for gay men and African Americans," said Mark Ishaug, president/CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). "The federal government must commit to speeding up the roll-out of new interventions with urgency. It's deplorable that nearly three decades into the epidemic of our lifetime, the United States still has no comprehensive strategy to prevent HIV transmission, increase access to HIV care, and reduce racial disparities in the epidemic."
AFC director of advocacy Jim Pickett noted that where infection rates for other populations are holding steady or showing slight declines, HIV infections among gay men tragically continue to climb.
"This is a direct result of years of policy and programs that demonize and ignore the sexual health needs of gay men, especially African-American and Latino gay men who bear the brunt of the epidemic in the U.S.," Pickett said. "Gay men of all colors face significant health disparities that directly impact the incidence and prevalence of HIV in their lives. We must prioritize a holistic, asset-based gay men's health agenda that goes well beyond a 'navel to knee' focus. We must also address their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health needs that, when neglected, foster the conditions in which HIV thrives."
"These data give the strongest evidence yet of a escalating public health emergency in Black and Latino communities that sadly began as early as 1987 when HIV infections among Black individuals peaked at an estimated 45,000 infections per year. HIV infections among Latinos that year comprised another 16,000 cases," said Johnathon Briggs, AFC communications director. "While we applaud CDC's 'Heightened National Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis among African-Americans,' such efforts remain inadequate. Instead, the entire domestic HIV prevention portfolio must be substantially scaled up and programs must prioritize lowering these shameful racial and ethnic disparities."
As a local and national leader in the fight against AIDS, AFC works to prevent new HIV infections among gay men and African Americans through several initiatives that it funds and coordinates in Chicago, including:
This article was provided by AIDS Foundation of Chicago.