HONOLULU A state health official said he’s disappointed that the number of new AIDS cases in Hawaii hasn’t fallen over the past six years.
There were 109 new AIDS cases in the state last year, which is also average for the past six years.
Of the cases last year, 58 were reported on Oahu, 18 in Maui County, 12 on the Big Island and 21 on Kauai.
“We would think by now we would be seeing fewer cases since treatment has been available for some time,” said Peter Whiticar, head of the Health Department’s STD/AIDS Prevention Branch.
Of the new AIDS cases, 89 percent were male. Male-to-male sex remains the most common risk factor, cited in 62 percent of the cases.
More than half, 58 percent, were Caucasian with Asians accounting for 12 percent and Hawaiians-Pacific Islands 8 percent.
There are an estimated 2,300 to 3,200 infected residents with human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, in the state. Of that total, 1,305 people with AIDS were known to be living in Hawaii.
Whiticar said the new cases are people who were HIV-positive for years and developed significantly weakened immune systems or any of an assortment of ailments symptomatic of AIDS.
Since 1983, 2,847 AIDS cases have been reported in Hawaii, with 1,542 known dead from the disease.
Whiticar said with effective treatments and news of HIV-AIDS largely focused on problems in the Third World, some Americans have become complacent about avoiding unsafe sexual behavior.
If these people don’t get tested or develop symptoms later, it could be years before a corresponding increase in HIV-AIDS cases is noted, he said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 27, 2006.