CA HIV Stats: Up, Down or Stable?
The director of California's Office of AIDS, Dr. Michelle Roland, and her highly valuable staff of epidemiologists and statisticians, have knocked themselves out in the past year or so cleaning up the state HIV stats.
I have been critical of them in the past, but today I am giving them much praise for getting California's recent infections properly counted and helping us to better understand where the epidemic has been trending. Actually, I should say the endemic, since the stats are basically stable, to slightly declining, and epidemic refers to expanding infections.
A recent HIV report explained why summaries weren't published for a while:
[The spring 2010 summary] is the first HIV/AIDS surveillance report published by the California Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS (OA), since the data migration process began in April 2009. No reports were published on HIV/AIDS between April 2009 and September 2009 the migration process.
Part of this process entailed OA and local health jurisdictions collaborating to clean and/or deduplicate data that resulted in minor case count shifts in some jurisdictions. [...]
Translation? Because we've had several reporting systems, that sometimes overlapped, before names reporting began, the data was migrated, or converted, into cleaned up figures. Dr. Roland and her staff are doing an admirable job of improving our HIV tracking and now let's look at the charts.
This chart shows historical data, using unique identifiers to follow infection rates. Of keen interest are the flat 2005 and 2006 lines hovering close to the 500 mark:
The next chart is the most current, and I believe the lines for 2006 and 2007 fluctuate and spike because of data clean up. The 2009 and 2010 lines, pretty much stay close to the 500 mark, except for the fall of last year:
Even taking into account the massive clean up of the confusing and complex data, and implementation of names-based reporting, I hesitate to come right out and say new infections are assuredly on the wane. But I will say, given that none of the yearly lines show upswings and their relative stability, that California is at endemic HIV status.
That is a good development, and I hope we soon see genuine decreases in new infections reflected in future reports.