Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Speaking Volumes & more 1.0

As the DNC 08 convention continues to wind up to it's crescendo this Thursday with the acceptance speech for presumptive nominee Obama. There's other news of importance that I want to keep front and center to my readers and supporters. Each of the candidates are quoted in this item concerning the HIV dilemma in this nation, however, each of "us" must do our part to stay steadfast in our missions to keep our elected officials, local CBO's and activist engaged.

Cougars, PUMAS, & Hillary, Oh My!: It had to happen, according to all the hand wringing and worry warts who pondered if former Presidential contender, Hillary Clinton was going to help unite the democratic party. Mrs. Clinton approached to podium, after a tremendous salute with fervor and confidence while delivering the rallying cry that set the hall in motion for unity. Her pronouncement of "No Way No How, No Mc Cain!," is probably already being produced into a campaign button somewhere! Thusly the pundits, talking heads and wonks are in hot analysis mode trying to figure out whether her speech will bring those 18 Million supporters into the fold for Team Obama. However, it seems that reports are still circulating that those "cougars," supposedly women over 40 are still mulling it over and then there are those, "PUMAS," (Party Unity My Ass!) folks who are miffed that Mrs. C. didn't get the nomination nor the VP nominee nod. Whew, it's high politics going in the mile high city and It's just to damn bad that I'm not in the house for all the heat. Next up, It's OBAMA Time, Thursday night's mega event in Invesco Stadium where a reported 76,000 people will be waiting with baited breathe for the presumptive nominee to seal the deal and bring it home.

CDC Releases Updated Estimates on HIV Infections

The new analysis found there were about 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available, about 40% higher than CDC's long-standing estimate of 40,000 for each of the last several years (Washington Post, 8/3). According to CDC, the number of new infections likely was never as low as the previous estimate of 40,000 and has been relatively stable overall since the late 1990s (CDC release, 8/3). According to the Post, the estimate is based on data from a new advanced testing method, which enabled researchers to detect recent HIV infections (Washington Post, 8/3). The study did not calculate the total number of U.S. residents living with HIV/AIDS, although such estimates are expected soon. Earlier projections estimated that about 1.2 million people in the U.S. are HIV-positive, and CDC is updating that number, the Boston Globe reports (Smith, Boston Globe, 8/3).Among sub-groups, the report found that:

Men who have sex with men accounted for 53% of all new infections;
Non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 45% of new infections (Sternberg, USA Today, 8/2);
People in their 30s had the highest number of new HIV infections, while people younger than age 30 accounted for 34% of all new infections;
73% of new infections were recorded among men (Washington Post, 8/3);
Injection drug users accounted for 12% of infections; and
Heterosexuals made up 31% of new infections.

Although the report indicates general stability in new infections nationally, as well as reductions in new infections among both IDUs and heterosexuals over time, it also shows increases among MSM (CDC release, 8/3).HIV incidence in 2006 among blacks was 83.7 infections per 100,000 people, seven times as high as the rate of 11.5 per 100,000 among whites and three times as high as the 29.3 infections per 100,000 people among Hispanics (Altman, New York Times, 8/3). According to the data, although new infections among blacks are higher than among any other racial or ethnic group, the number has been relatively stable since the early 1990s (CDC release, 8/3).
Historical Analysis According to the analysis, new HIV infections peaked at about 130,000 annually in the mid-1980s and decreased to a low of about 50,000 annually in the early 1990s. The number of new infections increased in the late 1990s and has been relatively stable since then, with estimates of between 55,000 and 58,500 new infections annually in the three most recent time periods that were analyzed, according to the study (New York Times, 8/3).
Prevention, Funding According to the Post, CDC spends about $750 million each year on prevention efforts. About half of CDC's HIV prevention budget targets blacks, Kevin Fenton -- director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention -- said. However, he added that the increasing incidence in MSM -- particularly in young black MSM -- is evidence that prevention campaigns have "not reached all those who need it" (Washington Post, 8/3). According to Fenton, the recent relative stability in incidence is somewhat good news because the overall number of people living with HIV who could potentially pass the virus on to others is increasing as HIV-positive people are able to live longer due to antiretroviral drugs. That suggests those people are taking steps to prevent spreading the virus, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Stannard, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3). "Over 95% of people living with HIV are not transmitting to someone else in a given year," David Holtgrave of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University said, adding, "What that says is the transmission rate has been kept very low by prevention efforts" (Washington Post, 8/3). An analysis last year by Holtgrave and Jennifer Kates, a Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of HIV policy at the foundation, showed a correlation between the amount of funds spent on prevention and HIV incidence. "You get what you pay for," Holtgrave said, adding, "I think the new statistics are the most important AIDS story in the U.S. since the advent of the new treatments" (USA Today, 8/3).

View full report. is a free service of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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