What's happening with statistics for new HIV diagnoses in the five boroughs of New York City, according to the Department of Health? The October 2012 semi-annual HIV epi survey's historical chart, above, shows in the light blue line on the lower right that such diagnoses are in a decline.
It's not only new HIV diagnoses that have fallen but also full-blown AIDS cases and deaths are also decreasing. But what is the percentage decline from 2001 to 2011 in new HIV diagnoses?
Since there are no hard numbers behind each yearly blue dot, in the historical chart up top, I don't know the number of new HIV diagnoses in 2001 but I estimate the number was 5,900. Numbers of HIV and AIDS diagnoses are counted in the four-digits, as explained on the far left sideways explanation in red.
Using the 2001 estimate of 5,900 against the 3,400 figure for new HIV diagnoses in 2011, a figure that comes from the NYC DoH's PowerPoint presentation HIV/AIDS in New York City, 2007-2011, above, I guesstimate the drop at 38%.
This chart is from the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, from their HIV-STD-Hepatitis C epi report which was published in May, and shows newly diagnoses HIV cases statewide from 2002 - 2010.Here's are the excellent declining developments:
Newly diagnosed HIV cases have fallen steadily over this time period, with over 6,000 cases in 2002, which decline to under 4,000 in 2010. This represented a 37% drop in newly diagnosed cases over this 9-year period.
The statewide drop of 37% I believe bolsters my contention that the decline in NYC stats is 38%, for roughly the same time period.
The state epi profile also contains welcomed news about new HIV cases by racial categories. The orange bars represent black cases, Hispanics with green bars and white cases are the blue bars:
This figure demonstrates that the successes observed in [over all HIV cases] have also been observed among the three most populous racial/ethnic groups in NYS. In fact, the sharpest decline was observed among black persons, with a 42% decrease, followed by Hispanic (35%) and white (26%) persons. The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases among Asian/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Multi-race were too small to provide meaningful trends, therefore are not shown.
Another important decline among a very high-risk population is seen in the state chart for people who inject substances:
The substantial decline in newly diagnosed HIV cases among injecting drug users represents another significant achievement in the history of the AIDS epidemic. The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases attributable to injecting drug use declined by 78% from 2002 to 2010.
I asked NYC DoH spokeswoman Diane Hepps why there is no October 2013 semi-annual epi report, as there have been such reports for the past seven years. Hepps replied:
Note we won’t be releasing a report this October but we will be releasing an annual report by the end of the year. The inaugural annual report will be released by end of year and we will continue to publish mid-year reports.
Whenever a department of public health is ending publication of any HIV epi reports, I believe there should be a public notice about it on the department's web site. That is not the case with DoH. There is no info on the surveillance page about ending the October semi-annuals and that they are are launching a new annual report. Let's hope DoH soon informs the public about the pending changes.
Finally, here is Hepps' reply to my question about why the NYC stats for new HIV diagnoses are down:
It is likely that the reasons for this decline are multifactorial and include a broad scale-up of routine HIV screening in NYC with prompt linkage to care, support for staying in care and adhering to HIV treatment, as well as widespread availability of sterile syringes and free condoms, among other factors.
When the inaugural annual report is released in December, we'll see if the declines continue.