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North Carolina Had 2000 New HIV Infections In 2006

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this weekend announced an innovative method to estimate new HIV infections in the United States, allowing for the clearest picture to date of the leading edge of the nation’s epidemic. According to the new estimate, approximately 56,300 people became infected with HIV in the United States in 2006. In North Carolina, the CDC estimates that approximately 2,200 individuals became infected with the virus during 2006. The new estimates of recent HIV infections include individuals who may be unaware of their HIV status.

The new estimates are based on a sample of people tested for HIV from 22 states, the use of an additional lab test, and a complex statistical modeling approach. North Carolina has participated in this testing program since 2005 and continues to collaborate in the ongoing project.

The new estimate provides the clearest understanding of recent HIV infections in the country and demonstrates the importance of continuing to address this very serious public health threat in the nation and in North Carolina. Officials from CDC and North Carolina are working together to use the new method to create population-specific estimates for state data. A breakdown of population-specific data for North Carolina will be released in the near future.

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The estimate of new HIV infections, combined with existing HIV/AIDS surveillance data, will enable the North Carolina Communicable Disease Branch to better understand populations impacted by HIV now and how to respond by more effectively focusing prevention efforts.

“North Carolina’s response to HIV/AIDS is strong,” said State Health Director Leah Devlin. “Our expanded testing and prevention efforts include the ‘Get Real Get Tested’ campaign, which encourages the routinization of HIV testing, and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which helps provide medications for people infected with HIV. Responding to HIV and AIDS remains a top public health priority in our state. The new estimates will help us better monitor trends and further refine our prevention strategies.”

Nationally,the CDC estimates that in 2006, 73 percent of the newly infected persons were male, 45 percent were black, 15 percent were Hispanic, and 53 percent were among men who had sex with other men. According to Delbert Williams, head of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Unit of the N.C. Division of Public Health, the distribution of estimated infections in North Carolina is expected to be similar to that reported nationally, except North Carolina will likely have a greater proportion of HIV infections diagnosed in the black population than is seen nationally. Williams expects that the new estimates for gender and racial distributions will mirror the existing HIV/AIDS surveillance data for the state – in 2006, approximately 73 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases reported were males; 67 percent of the reports were among blacks; and approximately 52 percent of the cases reported were among men who have sex with other men.

“We know that science-based prevention interventions and testing work to help to prevent the spread of HIV,” said Evelyn Foust, head of the state’s Communicable Disease Branch. “However, our prevention efforts must be adequately funded and vigorously applied, and newly diagnosed individuals must get into care and treatment.”