Almost 17,000 cases of HIV infection were identified throughout New York state during the last seven months of 2000, according to a report released Friday as required by a recent law.

Of the 16,866 cases reported, the State Health Department said 2,817 were initial HIV diagnoses; 9,036 were known HIV cases reported to the state for the first time; and 5,013 were initial AIDS diagnoses, all from June 1 to December 31, 2000.

"The case reporting law has been in effect for almost two years, and this is the first instance of state data related to HIV that our state has had," said Michael Kink, legislative counsel for Housing Works, an AIDS advocacy organization. "We've tracked and reported AIDS cases prior to now. This is the first time we know how many HIV infections."

However, patients aren't required to tell who they've had sex with. "They basically give folks a chance to tell their contacts themselves, but they also offer for public health officials to make those contacts as well," Kink said. "Most people do not want to notify their contacts."

The Health Department said 1,383 partners were notified of their possible exposure. "This law is saving lives," said state Sen. Guy Vella, a Bronx Republican. The department is still processing the HIV reports for 2001, but it estimates there are approximately 130,000 cases of infection statewide.

The data show a greater proportion of females among newly diagnosed HIV cases, more younger people and more blacks than among AIDS cases, the department said.