Monday, May 4, 2015

New HIV Infections Dropped by 19% in Iowa in 2014

The Des Moines Register reported today that cases of new HIV infections dropped by 19% last year in the state of Iowa. In total, 99 Iowans were diagnosed with the disease last year, which was down from 122 new infections in 2013:
The numbers are fairly small, so they can jump up or down by relatively large percentages from year to year. But the state’s top AIDS expert said he’s optimistic the decline is meaningful.  

“I don’t think what we’re looking at here is a one-year anomaly,” said Randy Mayer, chief of the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis.  

Mayer said state officials and AIDS-prevention groups decided a few years ago to focus almost exclusively on people who already were diagnosed with HIV. In the past, prevention experts also focused on people who hadn’t yet contracted the virus but were in groups that had relatively high risks. Mayer said research showed that transmission could be drastically reduced if experts honed in on making sure people with HIV received treatment and took their medication daily.

Modern medications can drive the virus to undetectable levels. When that happens, it’s nearly impossible for a patient to transmit the virus to another person, Mayer said. He added that results so far this year don’t show new HIV cases going back up after last year’s decline.
Of the 99 new cases of HIV infection last year, 55 people contracted the disease from sex between men, 20 people contracted the disease from sex between a man and a woman, six people contracted the disease from intravenous drug use, and two people contracted HIV from a combination of homosexual sex and intravenous drug use.

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