August 9, 2010

August 9, 2010
Miami is No. 1 in AIDS Cases in US

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I hope your week is off to a safe and great start. Dab the AIDS Bear and I are enjoying a few days back home before our next adventure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released information based upon a 2008 statistical report that states the Miami metropolitan area ranks No.1 in the United States in AIDS case rates. Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana were ranked second and third according to the same 2008 report.

Number 4 is Batimore, followed by: Jacksonville; Washington D.C.; Columbia, South Carolina; Atlanta; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and New York City.

CDC surveillance systems refer to two groups of gay and bisexual men that they categorize as men who have sex with men, or MSM, as being among the highest group of persons affected by the AIDS virus.

The report states: “This is the only risk group in the US in which the annual number of new HIV infections is increasing. There is an urgent need to expand access to proven HIV prevention interventions for gay and bisexual men, as well as to develop new approaches to fight HIV in this population.”

Although new infections in heterosexual and injection drug users have decreased, the number of new MSM HIV infections has consistently grown since the early 1990s.

South Florida Gay News reported that, “MSM accounts for nearly half of the more than one million people living with HIV in the United States .” Despite this report, however, the CDC states that MSM only make up 4 percent of the U.S. male population among those that are aged 13 and older. The explanation for the startling contrast in reports is that “the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM in the US is more than 44 times that of other men.”

According to Spencer Lieb, senior epidemiologist for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS, the Miami area has been in the top five for a long time. “The tri-county area has had one of the highest morbidity rates since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic,” he says. “So it is not surprising to find them ranking high.” Lieb told SFGN, “that the increasingly high number of persons living with HIV will result in a greater chance of onward transmission.”

In addition, there have been more individuals tested for HIV in Florida than any other state in the US.

“If we test more people, then we are most likely to discover more cases,” Lieb says.

A contributor to the high results the state is experiencing are the recent testing methods implemented by the Florida Department of Health , the viral load and CD4 testing methods, both of which were proven to be more successful testing methods than that of the previous.

Adding to further concern, Jacksonville, Florida was ranked fifth in the report, leading to the concern that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Florida is worsening through a somewhat rippling affect.

Lieb continues, “If a person’s sexual network includes a high density of people who are infected by the virus, the chances are greater that the person may contract the disease.”

South Florida News stated that, “Florida has implemented many programs in the last decade to help those affected by the virus. The Miami area alone has over a dozen programs or organizations including Care Resource, Empower-U, Union Positiva, Village South and ALERT Health. The University of Miami has also created a program to help those worried about contracting the virus.”

“In total, Miami has more interventions than any other city in the state,” Lieb said.

Particularly alarming were the results of those who were unaware that they had contracted HIV. Among the most concerning were black MSM and young MSM. Almost 80 percent of those aged 18 - 24 were unaware of their infection, and two thirds of black MSM were unaware, as well.

Close examination of the CDC report shows that “ Miami ” includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The rate per 100,000 population for the group is 42.8. The breakdown for the three areas is: Fort Lauderdale - 50.8, Miami 44.7, West Palm Beach - 28.5.

I can not say that I am surprised from what I have personally seen. And now with Florida having the largest ADAP Waiting List in the country, things are only going to get worse.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab