Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New H.I.V. Cases Persist at 50,000 a Year

via New York Times, By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Despite years of great progress in treating AIDS, the number of new infections with the virus that causes it has remained stubbornly around 50,000 a year for a decade, according to new figures released on Wednesday by federal officials.

The American epidemic is still concentrated primarily in gay men, and is growing rapidly worse among young black gay men.

That realization is causing a rift in the AIDS community. Activists say the persistent infection rate proves that government prevention policy is a flop. Federal officials are on the defensive even as they concede that the epidemic will grow if prevention doesn’t get better, which they know is unlikely while their budgets are being cut.

And some researchers believe it is impossible to completely wipe out even a fatal, incurable disease when it is transmitted through sex and carries so much stigma that people deny having it and avoid being tested for it.

Looking backward, epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe new cases peaked at 130,000 a year in the 1980s, sank slowly during the 1990s and plateaued at 50,000 around the year 2000.

Both Dr. Kevin Fenton, chief of AIDS prevention for the C.D.C., and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, chief of AIDS research at the National Institutes of Health, took issue with Mr. Kramer’s interpretation. While both agreed that 50,000 new annual infections was, in Dr. Fauci’s words, “a great concern,” both pointed to some areas where substantial progress had been made and said that new studies were seeking ways to get more people tested and treated early in the course of the illness, which would make them less infectious and drive transmission rates down.

“The C.D.C. is absolutely not resting,” Dr. Fenton insisted. “It was a major accomplishment to drop infections from 130,000 to 50,000, and we’re dealing with an epidemic that is dynamic.”

But, he conceded, 50,000 is an “unacceptably high level,” and without better prevention efforts, “we’re likely to face an era of rising infection rates.”

Read more.


  1. If so called safer sex practices and condoms work why hasn't the rate of new infections gone down?...

  2. Because the rate of new infections are about a lot more than safe sex and condoms. They are about access to care and treatment - or the lack thereof. They are about access to testing and prevention services - or the lack thereof. New infections are about poverty, and housing insecurity, hunger, unemployment, lack of health insurance, homophobia and racism - among other things - that all conspire to keep people from accessing prevention services and healthcare. Condoms do work, and safe sex practices work as well. There is ample proof there. But so does providing treatment to people who are positive. And so does finding people who are positive early - so they can take appropriate measures to protect themselves and others. In the US - we have thousands and thousands of people on waiting lists for AIDS drugs. About half of all ppl living with HIV/AIDS have sporadic access to healthcare. Not even 20% of people living with HIV in the US have undetectable viral loads (being undetectable lowers the risk of onward transmission dramatically.) Many, many infections happen when people do not know their status. So, yes, condoms are great, and so are safer sex practices. But they alone cannot fully address incidence rates.

  3. same old excuses.

  4. anon ----- so, pls, do tell, what are YOUR solutions to the problem? you clearly have a disdain for condoms, "so called safer sex" and all the drivers of the epidemic. pls, pls, pls, tell us - and the world - what you would do to deal with the high incidence rates among gay men in this country? and among other heavily impacted groups? the world would love to know.

  5. Get tested before having sexual contact. Then make an informed decision.

    >"what are YOUR solutions to the problem?"
    >"what you would do to deal with the high incidence rates among gay men in this country? and among other heavily impacted groups?"

  6. Where is a graph showing changes over the last 20 years?...


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