United States: Efforts to Stem AIDS Increase Get Failing Grade From Activists
August 8, 2008
AIDS activists are mulling the ramifications of CDC's revised estimates of HIV incidence in the United States, which found that 40 percent more people were newly infected each year than was previously believed. Though the report showed a roughly stable US epidemic since the late 1990s, men who have sex with men (MSM) represented a significantly greater proportion of estimated new infections, CDC said.
When CDC released the report in Mexico City at the 17th International AIDS Conference, some attendees staged a protest, holding aloft large "F" banners and posters, the grade they said the United States deserves for failing to slow its epidemic.
Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, noted that incidence among MSM had steadily increased since the early 1990s. "It doesn't have to be this way," Fenton said. Among the more than 1 million Americans with HIV, one-quarter are unaware of their infection, representing a "tremendous unmet need," he said.
Based on the more accurate data, CDC estimated there were 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006. In response, Fenton said CDC will expand HIV testing; work to engage people in communities at risk; develop a "strategic road map"; and create a national plan to fight the epidemic.
A national plan, activists said, should include ending abstinence-only sex education in favor of comprehensive school-based programs; lifting the federal funding ban on needle exchange programs; and ending the ban on HIV-positive immigrants and visitors.
Palm Beach Post
08.07.2008; Antigone Barton
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.