HIV, AIDS Cases Increasing Again in Iowa

By Rod Boshart

Iowa AIDS

Tools

By KCRG Intern

Diagnosed cases of AIDS and HIV infections are on the rise again in Iowa.

The number of HIV diagnoses hit a record 126 in 2007 but then dropped to 107 in 2008. However, Jerry Harms of the state Department of Health said 70 HIV and 46 AIDS diagnoses were reported during the first half of 2009 – figures that both topped the averages for the previous five-year periods.

As of last June 30, there were 1,667 people – 1,314 males and 353 females -- living in Iowa who had tested positive for HIV or AIDS, including 11 people under the age of 13. Health officials reported there were 26 HIV-infected deaths in Iowa in 2008.

Harms said figures for the entire 2009 year won’t be available until March. But, he said with the relatively small number of HIV/AIDS cases in Iowa, it is difficult to draw many conclusions about trend lines or other factors in tracking the disease.

“It looks like they’re going to be up,” Harms said. “It looks like we could be approaching 2007 numbers. I don’t think they’re going to be beyond historical highs and the ‘why’ of it at this point is unknown. It’s a hard thing to pin point.”

The data can be affected by increases in the levels of testing and the dissemination of prevention messages, he noted. The federal Center for Disease Control has estimated about 21 people who have been infected with HIV do not know it and there has been an increased push to encourage people to get tested, he added.

Also, Harms said, it is unclear whether the increased numbers reflect new diagnoses or people who moved to Iowa after having been previously diagnosed elsewhere.

A total of 58 males and 12 females were diagnosed with HIV infections and 39 males and seven females with the AIDS disease between Jan. 1 and June 30. The yearly average for the period from 2004 through 2008 was 53 HIV diagnoses and 39 AIDS diagnoses.

Polk County had the highest number of residents diagnosed with HIV or AIDS with 470, followed by Scott County with 172, Johnson County with 128, Linn County with 113, Black Hawk County with 81, Pottawattamie County with 64 and Woodbury County with 62. There also were 62 inmates diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in Iowa’s nine prisons as of last June 30.

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