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HIV Infections in N.Y. Rising Faster Than U.S. Rate
  By David Olmos
Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- New York City residents are becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS three times as fast as Americans overall, partly reflecting a larger portion of high- risk groups in the population, health officials said.
About 72 of every 100,000 residents were newly infected in 2006, the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a statement today. Nationally, the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, spread that year to 23 of every 100,000 people.
Blacks, which make up 13 percent of the population nationally, are disproportionately affected by AIDS, accounting for more than 49 percent of cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York City has comparatively large groups of blacks and other high-risk groups, city officials said.
"The populations that bear the greatest burden nationally - - blacks, for example, and men who have sex with men -- are highly represented in New York City," the health department said in its statement. "Because HIV is more prevalent within those groups, the risk of HIV infection per sexual contact is higher."
The city estimate means that almost 4,800 New York City residents contracted HIV in 2006.
The latest estimate was based on a new formula, developed by the Atlanta-based CDC, that more reliably pinpoints newer infections. For years, researchers couldn't tell new HIV infections from those that developed earlier, making it harder to assess whether and how the virus was still spreading. "New technology, which distinguishes recent from longstanding HIV infections, provides the critical missing piece of the picture," said Jill Smith, a CDC spokeswoman, in an e- mail. "It was previously not possible to know which HIV infections were new."
`Leading Edge'
The analytic technique "is new, and the estimates may be imprecise," the health department said in its statement. Even so, health officials said the new technique provides a "valuable tool for understanding" the rate of HIV infection in the city. The HIV numbers do signal that new AIDS cases may arise. "HIV incidence is the leading edge of the epidemic," Monica Sweeney, the New York health department's assistant commissioner for HIV Prevention and Control, said in the statement.
At an international AIDS conference in Mexico City in August, CDC officials, using the same formula on which the New York numbers are based, said HIV is spreading about 40 percent faster in the U.S. than had been estimated earlier. About 56,300 Americans contract HIV each year, according to the new CDC estimates.
Both the CDC and city officials used a laboratory test to distinguish recent infections from those that occurred years earlier. A new statistical technique was then used to estimate the number of recent infections among people who had HIV tests and those who didn't.
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