published Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

HIV cases up 32 percent among Tennessee's young

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The number of Tennessee residents 15 to 24 years old who were newly diagnosed with HIV jumped by 32 percent between 2005 and 2009, the last year for which statistics are available, according to state health statistics.

"I remember holding the hands of people dying of AIDS in my 24 years of being in this field, but the young people I talk to have not held the hands of folks dying with AIDS," Victoria Harris, director of education for the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care Center, which specializes in HIV treatment, told The Tennessean. "They don't have a reality of this virus."

Deaths in Tennessee for people with HIV dropped almost by half from 1995 to 1997, after Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy was introduced. The success of those drugs may have made some people complacent, but Scott Bryan, with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, said people "cannot assume that HIV is always, and certainly not easily, treatable."

For one thing, how well medications work depend on how soon HIV is detected and what mutations of the virus that person has contracted.

"There's a big myth out there that people who have HIV can have unsafe sex with other HIV-positive people. That it's OK," said Robertson Nash, a nurse practitioner with Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care Center. "It's actually very dangerous."

People having unprotected sex can make it worse by spreading mutations of the virus that are drug-resistant.

Almost one in six newly diagnosed people in 2007 was infected with a form of the virus that was resistant to at least one class of the drugs used to treat HIV. But 1 percent had mutations that were resistant to all three classes of drugs.

And there's no guarantee that the government will continue to subsidize the drugs for those who cannot afford them.

The drugs have been made widely available through the federally funded Ryan White program, but in 2009, the state temporarily put new applicants on a waiting list when the Tennessee AIDS Drug Assistance Program reached capacity.

And there is still confusion about what behaviors are safe, said Donald Alcendor, a professor with Meharry Medical College who works with the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research.

He said that in talks with high school seniors about half of them wrongly think they can't get HIV from oral sex.

Men who have sex with men still make up the majority of new infections nationwide at 53 percent. Among that group, black men between 13 and 29 had more new infections than any other group. The CDC has designated HIV a crisis in African-American communities.

Among Hispanics, the most infections also occurred in the youngest age group. But among white men, the most new infections were found in those between 30 and 39.

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ceeweed said...

Antiretroviral therapy has extended the lives by decades of those living with HIV. Even those persons who do well on these drug-cocktails will ,one day, not be able tolerate the therapy. AIDS is still a terminal disease only now a HIV+ person can get a twenty year reprieve. That is until the treatment, itself, becomes as fatal as the disease....Engaging in high-risk activities certainly reflects an apathy that defies logic.

April 20, 2011 at 7:53 a.m.
herpesfinder said...

Have an STD and are having trouble finding a date as a consequence? You should visit the STD dating site HerpesFinder,com. Here you'll find people who have the same conserns and issues as yourself, and perhaps find a great partner as well.

April 20, 2011 at 9:42 p.m.
rolando said...

It isn't apathy behind the rise in high-risk sexual activities, ceeweed.

It is more a refusal to give up their favored methods regardless of the risk. This was never more obvious than in mid-80s San Francisco when majority voters demanded Mayor-at-the-time Diane Feinstein keep the public bathhouses open in spite of CDC recommendation to close them due to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS therein.

The Good Mayor sided with the majority and thereafter aided and abetted the death of untold thousands. But then she is pro-choice in more than abortion... Perhaps she even gives the nod to our rising cases.

April 20, 2011 at 10:35 p.m.
sangaree said...

@Among that group, black men between 13 and 29 had more new infections than any other group. The CDC has designated HIV a crisis in African-American communities.

Among Hispanics, the most infections also occurred in the youngest age group

I think the reason there appears to be a rise in HIV cases more so among blacks and Hispanics is because these two groups are more likely to attend those free health screenings offered. It's at those free health screens where statistics and numbers are being compiled to come up with numbers. Those numbers and statistics are used to label groups based on race, ethnicity so on and so forth. Whites remain the most likely group who have private doctors, who are least likely to file reports and more likely to guard their patrient's privacy.

There use to be an old military saying that went something like:

Only the enlisted men are diagnosed with STDS. While the brass contracts a urinary infection.

April 21, 2011 at 7:49 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Those pesky white people, when will they learn to quit being so dang white.

April 21, 2011 at 8:10 a.m.
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