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AIDS Cases on the Rise in United States
  CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Associated Press
Daniel Yee
August 3, 2003
Revolutionary new drugs, coupled with a new generation of gay men in their 20s without memory of the early AIDS devastation, led health officials to warn AIDS could make a comeback in the United States. Last week, new figures proved the warnings right: AIDS diagnoses had increased for the first time in 10 years.
"There needs to be a lot more attention paid to the HIV epidemic in the United States," said Dr. Jim Curran, dean of Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, and a former AIDS director with CDC. "People need to realize there's still no cure and no vaccine. Our greatest enemy in HIV prevention is... complacency about our epidemic here."
In 2002, 42,136 new AIDS cases were diagnosed, a 2.2 percent rise over 2001. HIV infection among gay and bisexual men was up for the third year in a row. Up to 15 percent of new HIV cases may have drug-resistant strains of the virus.
"I don't think we're losing the war, but we're certainly not finished with the war," said Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, a CDC deputy director.
"Part of it is complacency, part of it is indifference..." said Terje Anderson of the National Alliance of People with AIDS. "Part of it is fatigue - guys have been trying to stay safe for 20 years, how do you keep doing it? At a certain point people are losing their ability to do that and it's very troubling."
In April, CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding announced a change in the country's HIV prevention strategy. Rather than addressing risky behavior in the uninfected, the new focus is on stopping HIV patients from transmitting the virus to others, reducing mother-to-child transmissions, and increasing the use of a new rapid test in non-medical settings. Activists have voiced concern about the strategy, which may take funding from current AIDS groups. Anderson said CDC's initiative is a good approach, but prevention campaigns cannot neglect community-level interventions.
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