Saturday, February 13, 2010

CA's HIV Rate Drops 23%?

Dr. Michelle Roland, the director of California's Office of AIDS, and her dedicated staff deserve much public gratitude for their hard work in the past year. They have effectively engaged people with AIDS and advocacy orgs as Governor Schwarzenegger threatened deep cuts to medicines and services, through dozens of conference calls and email alerts.

The transparent and respectful processes of Roland and her team, impresses even a skeptic like me. I applaud all of the folks at Office of AIDS for their tireless outreach and work.

But the point of this post is really about the Integrated Epidemiologic Profile of HIV/AIDS in California, 2001-2005 with 2007 Update, which was published this week. It will be the key document guiding Ryan White and prevention councils, local health departments, and AIDS orgs, as they make decisions allocating dwindling resources.

The stats of most interest to me are the preliminary numbers of HIV diagnoses for 2003, 2004 and 2005. The epi profile makes it abundantly clear that the state's HIV stats are not mature, and in flux, as the state has integrated data from when we had a unique-identifier reporting system, with the newer names-based stats.

Even with the many caveats, I believe we can still find encouraging news in the prelim HIV numbers for those three years. Let's walk through the stats.

Table 30 presents HIV diagnoses for males, while table 31 is for females (see pages 76 and 77). I combined the sub-totals to come up with these collective annual numbers:

2003 / 4,715
2004 / 4,019
2005 / 3,616

On the surface, the stats, which will evolve as lab reporting delays are cleared up, are in and of themselves glimmers of good news. The stats, as is, represent a 24% reduction in HIV diagnoses.

(Annual Transmission Rates per 100 Persons Living with HIV, 1977–2006. Source: CDC.)

These new 2003-2005 stats for California fit in nicely with the long-reported on sustained drop in HIV infections in San Francisco, and the December 2008 analysis from the CDC titled, "A Dramatic Declines Indicate Success in U.S. HIV Prevention.

I believe California's declining HIV rate for 2003-2005 is mirrored in the national rate, as reflected in the small blue chart above, with the drooping white line. As the HIV epi stats mature, we can expect the Office of AIDS to keep the public informed on evolving figures.

Let's hope the 23% decline over 2003 - 2005 is substantiated with additional surveillance.

Many thanks to Mark Damesyn, the Office of AIDS staffer, for creating the new epi profile for California.

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