Service providers aren’t surprised by reports of new CDC data
The number of people infected with HIV in the U.S. annually is as much as 50 percent higher than what the federal government has indicated, The Washington Blade reported this week
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control until now has estimated that about 40,000 people are infected with HIV each year in the U.S. But the Blade reported that the CDC is preparing to release new statistics showing that the number is more like 58,000 to 63,000 in the most recent 12-month period.
Representatives from local HIV/AIDS service providers are not surprised.
“Certainly, we’ve heard rumors,” said Raeline Nobles, executive director of Dallas’AIDS Arms Inc. “I think it’s kind of an unkept secret.”
According to The Blade, two factors behind the increase are more stringent reporting requirements for states and increased testing.
Nobles said it’s also a question of mathematics. As treatments have improved, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS has grown, leading to the probability of more infections.
“You can’t keep infection rates at a constant 40,000 when the number of infected people is going through the roof,” Nobles said, adding she would not be surprised if the CDC reported an infection rate as high as 80,000 people a year.
Steven Pace, executive director of the AIDS Interfaith Network, chalked up some of the increase to the phenomenon known as “condom fatigue.”
“I know that behavior has gone back the other way even among gay men,” Pace said. “We have to keep the message of HIV prevention out there, and it has to be real to people. People are either not getting the message or they’re not hearing the message.”
Nobles said that’s because some aren’t listening.
“It doesn’t matter how much education you provide to somebody,” she said. “They’ve got to be willing and able to accept it and integrate it into their behavior.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 16, 2007
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