HIV rates among white men up slightly in Virginia Gay
Posted by pozlife on December 8, 2007
State Department of Health releases updated prevention plan, profile
<img alt=”Washington Blade – The two maps above show how HIV and AIDS cases are distributed throughout Virginia. The area around Virginia Beach, in the eastern part of the state, has some of the highest infection rates, though the disease is more prevalant in the Richmond area, shown in the bottom map. (Maps courtesy of Virginia Department of Health)
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The two maps above show how HIV and AIDS cases are distributed throughout Virginia. The area around Virginia Beach, in the eastern part of the state, has some of the highest infection rates, though the disease is more prevalant in the Richmond area, shown in the bottom map. (Maps courtesy of Virginia Department of Health)
Friday, December 07, 2007
A Virginia report released last week shows HIV prevention efforts are working among most at-risk groups, including men who have sex with men (MSM).
The findings are included in the Virginia Department of Health’s new 2008 Comprehensive HIV Prevention Plan and its companion, the Epidemiology Profile: HIV/AIDS in Virginia. The former is an update to its 2003 predecessor and uses a combination of science, data and community input to prevent new HIV infection; the latter shows the distribution and impact of HIV and AIDS in the state and is designed to help care providers and allocate resources.
MSM, a term used by researchers to circumvent stigma-laced identity words like gay or bisexual, figure prominently in the findings. On a ranking in the comprehensive plan that identified groups most in need of prevention efforts, MSM came in second, just behind blacks.
Among the report’s findings for Virginia:
- In 2005, Virginia ranked 10th highest in HIV rates in the country among states with confidential name-based reporting.
- From 1997 to 2006, the number of diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases has decreased by more than 3,000 per year though the number of people living with HIV has tripled.
- Blacks accounted for 64 percent of the total diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS in 2006, though Virginians are overwhelmingly (71 percent) white.
- In 2005, black men in the state were nine times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS than white men.
- Black women were 20 times more likely to be diagnosed than white women.
- Since their 1992 peaks, diagnoses rates for black men, white men and white women had been cut in half, though the rates for black women, while declining, haven’t declined as quickly.
- Rates for white men have increased steadily over the past four years, though only slightly — from 5.7 cases per 100,000 in 2002 to 7.2 cases per 100,000 in 2005 (the most recent year for which numbers were available).
- Hispanics accounted for 8 percent of the total diagnosed cases in 2006 and were four times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS than whites.
- In 2006, rates for blacks were 46.8 HIV/AIDS cases per 100,000 residents, 5.4 per 100,000 for whites and 21.8 per 100,000 for Hispanics.
- HIV/AIDS death rates for Virginia (4.7 per 100,000) are 11 times lower than the national high — D.C. at 43.3 per 100,000.
Elaine Martin, director of community services in the Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Disease Prevention, said Virginia’s HIV statistics are “about what you’d expect.”
“We’re considered a medium-incident state,” she said. “Our numbers are higher than you’d see in places like Montana or Wyoming, but not in the league of a D.C., California or New York.”
She said the slight rise among white men has been an ongoing surprise the last few years. Martin attributes it to an increase in online hook-ups, condom fatigue and a younger generation of gay men who didn’t witness the early years of the disease.
“You don’t see people anymore with Kaposi sarcoma lesions and you don’t see emaciated people dying, and certainly that’s a wonderful thing, but it’s also making it tougher for prevention efforts. Also gay men with HIV are living longer thanks to anti-retroviral drugs so there’s a longer window of time for transmission to occur. Obviously these men aren’t sick and still want to have a sex life.”
The report shows three areas of Virginia where HIV rates are highest — Northern Virginia (Washington suburbs), the eastern Virginia Beach/Norfolk area and Richmond, which has the highest rates.
Martin said a bevy of factors at play in those areas contribute to the numbers from the transient nature of Virginia Beach, to the higher concentration of blacks in the Hampton Roads area to the diversity and spillover of D.C.’s catastrophically high numbers in Northern Virginia.
Northern Virginia, though, also has some buffers in place that help keep its numbers slightly down from what Martin called the “affluence” of the region, its geographic compactness and an increase of social services.
Does Virginia’s reputation as a conservative state have any effect on its HIV rates? Last year’s Marshall-Newman marriage amendment was considered one of the country’s harshest.
“That can have an impact,” Martin said. “When we’re working with media companies on prevention campaigns, we have to be mindful of that. It is a conservative state, but it’s also come a long way in the last 20 years. There’s not nearly as much stigma about HIV as there used to be.”
At $19.5 million, Virginia’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program is among the nation’s better-funded states though California, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have better-funded programs. D.C.’s, at nearly $15.2 million, is less, but the District has a much smaller population: about 572,000 compared to Virginia’s 7.6 million. Maryland’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program is funded with about $43 million.
For more information, view the study at www.vdh.virginia.gov.
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