Number Of Annual New HIV Cases In US Higher Than Previously Thought

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The number of new annual HIVcases in the U.S. could beas much as 50% higher than previous estimates, according to U.S. health officials, who areexpected to release new data next year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Researchers and public health officials who have been briefed on the new datahave said CDC next year likely will release figuresindicating that in 2005, new HIV cases were 20% to 50% higher than previouslythought -- translating to a total of up to 60,000 new cases annually. The finalnumber is pending peer review by a scientific journal, the Journal reports(Chase/McKay, Wall Street Journal, 12/1).

CDC for more than 10 years reported that 40,000 new HIV cases occur annually inthe U.S. and said that theHIV epidemic in the stable (Brown, Washington Post, 12/1). According to the Journal,CDC in recent years has developed new testing technology and has updated itsmethodology to yield more accurate data. The new estimate was derived usingstate data and new antibody testing technology that can distinguish infectionsthat occurred in the past 160 days from older infections, the Journal reports(Wall Street Journal, 12/1). Nineteen states and cities areperforming the new antibody test along with an older test to calculate thenumber of new cases, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, the Washington Bladeon Nov. 14 reported that the new estimate showed that between 58,000 to 63,000people became HIV-positive during the most recent 12-month period. An unnamedfederal official said the new estimate was higher than the old one but not ashigh as reported in the Blade. Tom Skinner, a CDC spokesperson, saidthat the agency is "not in a position to say one way or another whetherthe numbers will actually be up from current estimates" until the peerreview is completed.

It is unclear to what extent more people were becoming HIV-positive or if thenew numbers are a better estimate than the old ones, the Times reports(Harris, New York Times, 12/2). It will take additional yearsusing the new methodology to determine whether HIV cases are increasing or havebeen underreported, the Post reports (Washington Post,12/1).



Kevin Fenton -- director ofCDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis,STD and TB Prevention-- emphasized that the "new estimates are not yet final," adding thatthe "new system will provide the clearest picture to date of new HIV infections" in the U.S. (Reuters, 12/2).

David Holtgrave, an epidemiologist with the JohnsHopkinsBloomberg School of Public Health, said it has been clear for at least one year that the old estimate would increase. He added that from 2001 to 2005, there were 37,000 cases annually in two-thirds of the country. "With just a little simple math, you get more than 40,000 new cases," Holtgrave said. According to Julie Davids, executive director of the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project, the new estimate "shows that prevention efforts are insufficient" (New York Times, 12/2).

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