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Injection Meth Use, Sex With Anonymous Partners Contribute to Increase in Number of HIV Cases in South Dakota

July 19, 2005

The number of newly reported HIV cases in South Dakota increased to 26 during the first six months of this year, compared with 19 new cases reported in all of 2004 and 25 cases in 2003, according to data from the state Department of Health, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports. Health officials attribute the rise in number of HIV cases to the injection use of methamphetamine and unprotected sexual intercourse with anonymous partners contacted over the Internet. In addition, complacency about HIV/AIDS in the state, which has the fourth-lowest HIV/AIDS rate nationwide, as well as the belief that the disease only affects men who have sex with men, are contributing to the increase, according to state epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger (Olson, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 7/16). According to the state health department's 2005 surveillance report, 285 people in the state are living with HIV/AIDS, and 37% of the cases reported since 2002 have been the result of heterosexual sexual contact. Kightlinger said the department is informing health care providers of the trends and developing education and prevention programs with the state's Methamphetamine Task Force. In addition, disease intervention staff are being provided with information about meth and the Internet as risk factors for HIV infection, and specific questions about those risks will be included in HIV/AIDS case investigation protocols (BlackHillsPortal.com, 7/16).

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