|Issue of the Day: New Diagnostics Help CDC Map HIV Infections|
Published Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
One of the major problems of mapping and prevention efforts facing the Centers for Disease Control’s effort to battle the spread of HIV/Aids happens to be accurate tracking. Since the beginning of the epidemic, the CDC’s efforts to monitor trends in new HIV infections has been hampered by HIV diagnosis occurring years after infection. New technology developed by the CDC can now distinguish recent from long-standing infections. Called Serologic testing algorithm for recent HIV Seroconversion (STARHS), the technology is used to develop the nation’s first surveillance system that is based on more concise estimates of the annual number of new HIV incidence than before. The first estimates from this system, issued in August 2008, revealed that the rate of HIV infections in 2006 were roughly 40% higher than former estimates reported. Also, as of April 2008, reporting for new infections has been nationalized as all 50 states, D.C. and territories all comply with the confidential Name-Based Reporting system.
Better diagnostics and reporting systems will help health care officials focus plans and evaluate prevention care and treatment programs on persons most at risk. According to the CDC, even with the new diagnostics, the rate of cases of HIV per year has remained steady since the late 1990’s. Analysis of the data points to a male to female ratio of 4-1 for new cases, plus new cases are rising for nearly every age group. Of those new cases, those infected are more likely to be of a minority or gay or bisexual.