Jump in HIV Cases Deserves Attention: State HIV Increase Demands More Focus on Prevention
February 5, 2010
"Recent news about a significant rise in HIV cases demonstrates the need to push prevention. Last week, the Minnesota Health Department reported that the number of new HIV infections jumped 13 percent in 2009, the largest increase in 17 years. Health experts say that younger people have not grown up with the same fear of the virus, causing them to lump HIV/AIDS in with treatable, curable [STDs].
"Despite treatment advances, HIV remains a life-altering, lifelong diagnosis. Young, sexually active people need to understand the consequences. If you can't afford expensive drugs, you can die. If you have access to the medicine, you will have to take it for the rest of your life, and your general health can be compromised forever. Getting and keeping health insurance will be difficult and may affect your employment options.
"To reverse the alarming local and national trend, young gay and bisexual males must be convinced of the importance of safe sex. Outreach efforts must be targeted to reach them where they live, in schools, social venues, through health care providers, and Internet networks. The same social networking sites that young people use to connect with sexual partners can be used for education.
"Although it's critical to reach that specific population of males, young people in general must be persuaded to take the safe-sex mantra to heart. Though HIV infections have not arisen as dramatically among other groups of youth, STD and pregnancy rates have. An unplanned pregnancy or contracting an STD may not be life-threatening, but there are still serious consequences.
"That's why prevention information campaigns, like the continuing efforts of the Minnesota Health Department, merit investment and support.
"If young people know how to protect themselves, they can avoid treatment difficulties, lifelong drug dependence, and possibly shorter life spans. And society saves on the ever-rising cost of health care for truly preventable diseases."
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
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.