Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lancet: What is the Incidence of HIV in the USA?
Earlier this week I tried to find out San Francisco's latest rate of new HIV infections, for 2007, but the stats, known as the CTR figures, for Counseling, Testing and Referral, weren't posted on the DPH web site. In recent previous years, the DPH made the CTR HIV stats available for public inspection in early May.

I requested the new HIV stats and this was the terse reply from DPH:
The information you requested is being worked on. The plan is to have it finished and posted on the web by August 1, 2008.
In typical DPH "give as little current HIV stats and related info to the fags as possible" fashion, the department didn't offer any reason for the three-month delay. Consistent release of reliable HIV stats is not a top agenda item for San Francisco.

As I noted last year, the CTR HIV stats appear to be declining, despite DPH claims that the infections are stable. (Year, number of antibody tests performed/poz results.)

19,090 / 699

20,376 / 735

21,973 / 736

20,735 / 644

17,714 / 336


But enough about whatever the HIV rate is for this city, let's look at a blistering editorial in today's Lancet medical journal. Nice of the bland Lancet editors to put on radical activist hats and deplore US prevention as dismal. Is there any other way to look at more than a decade of 40,000 new infections every year? On top of this outrageous annual stat, more than 25 years after HIV/AIDS hit America, the federal government can't tell the public what the actual number of new HIV transmissions is.

Whether I'm looking at HIV stats for San Francisco or across the country, it's best at times to use a crystal ball in getting a clue about the current/recent transmission rate.

Excerpts from the Lancet, (reg. req'd.):
Last week, at a press conference at the UN High-Level Meeting on AIDS in New York, Anthony Fauci, director of
. . . (NIAID), said that the number of new HIV infections per year in the USA was closer to 50 000 than 40 000.

He told reporters: “In the United States we still have a significant problem … we have over 750 000 AIDS cases … and over half a million deaths. The very disturbing aspect of the situation in the United States is that we have about 40 to 52 000 new infections each year.”

He said that this level of new infections had stayed the same for the past 14 years and that the USA had hit a wall in not being able to get any lower.

Fauci's statements, reported by Reuters, have caused uproar, because the 52 000 figure he refers to has not yet been publicly released . . .

On Nov 26, 2007, the CDC issued a letter to advocacy groups, which stated that the information would be released in the “coming months”. The letter also stated that the data had been submitted to an academic journal for peer review and that the CDC anticipates publishing the new data in early 2008. Yet, as The Lancet went to press, nothing had been released . . .

However, as the UN's webcast of the press conference shows, Fauci does not talk about diagnoses but new infections. He says that 52 000 is a new number that will soon become an official statistic . . .

Either way, the figure shows that US efforts to prevent HIV have failed dismally. The CDC must not fail US citizens further by delaying the release of the data behind this fact.

No comments: