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AHF: CDC Makes It Official - HIV Infections Up 48% Nationwide

AHF Calls Numbers a National Catastrophe; Notes Lifetime Costs of Treatment Will Approach $36 Billion


March 27, 2008 - LOS ANGELES -( BUSINESS WIRE ) - AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) ( www.aidshealth.org ) will host a press teleconference Friday March 28 th at 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time to respond to the release of a long-awaited report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showing its latest data on HIV rates and incidence in the US. The CDC HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/ (see " What ' s New? " section - second bullet), that was quietly released earlier this week, shows a " catastrophic " 48% increase in US HIV infections between the years 2005 and 2006. The number of infections jumped to 52,878 new reported cases in 2006 up from 35,537 reported in 2005. With the lifetime costs of one HIV-infected individual ' s treatment and care estimated to be $600,000, these new CDC surveillance numbers suggest a $36 billion aggregate cost for caring for these nearly 53,000 individuals.

WHAT:
Press Teleconference
- Reaction to CDC's Release of Data Showing 48%
Increase in US
HIV Infections from 2005 to 2006
CDC's Release of New HIV Infection Rates Show 48% Increase to 52,878 New Reported Cases Annually in 2006 up from 35,537 in 2005

WHEN:
Friday, March 28th NEW YORK: 11:00 AM EDT (1100)
LOS ANGELES: 8:00 AM PDT (0800)

WHO:
Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) President Whitney Engeran, III, Director, Public Health Division, AIDS Healthcare Foundation

HOW:
dial in information
Domestic:
+1.877.411.9748 participant code #7931503
International: +1.636.651.3128 participant code #7931503

"Catastrophe," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "There is no other word to describe these CDC numbers which underscore the wholesale failure of US HIV prevention efforts. We'd called on the CDC as far back as November to release the numbers-which they had in their possession at that time-so that Congress could consider the statistics as they finalized the budget and reapportioned and reprioritized money for HIV/AIDS services based on need. The CDC stonewalled, stating that they were awaiting publication of a peer-reviewed journal article on the data, something that appears to not have happened after all. These new HIV numbers and the CDC's laissez faire attitude do not bode well for the nation's ability to address its own growing epidemic."

"We now face $36 billion in costs associated with lifetime care and treatment of all these infected individuals," said Whitney Engeran, III, Director, Public Health Division, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "No matter how the CDC tries to spin these numbers, the fact remains that the numbers they've been reporting for years have been inaccurate, and have incorrectly portrayed the US epidemic as static at roughly 40,000 new infections per year. We missed a crucial opportunity to work with Congress to adjust the budget to better reflect the needs of the populations affected because of the CDC's delay in reporting these numbers."

In a community letter dated November 26, 2007 and sent to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) and others, the CDC revealed its plan to release the 2005 HIV incidence estimates "in the coming months." The letter further stated that the new numbers will be the first since the agency implemented a new system of data collection and analysis that they say will "provide more accurate and timely HIV incidence estimates."

The CDC letter was likely a response to the widespread speculation among stakeholders that the latest incidence numbers would reveal an astronomical rise in the estimate of new cases-which has turned out to be true. In the letter, the CDC stated that the goal was to release the data "as soon as possible." The CDC letter went on to say that, although the new incidence figures currently existed in manuscript form, the agency was submitting it to "an academic journal for peer review to ensure that the methods, emerging data, and conclusions are carefully reviewed for scientific accuracy and rigor before they are published. The manuscript is currently under review and decisions about publication are forthcoming."

"We hope that this is not yet another instance of the Bush Administration's suppression of information that could be damaging to their image, especially in light of the fact that the spike in new infections is, at least in part, likely due to failed policies of the administration, including the promotion of 'abstinence-only' prevention messages and the failure to promote condom use," added AHF's Weinstein.

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare, research, prevention and education provider. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 65,000 individuals in 20 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at www.aidshealth.org

Contact:
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea
, Communications Director
(323) 860-5225 work, (323) 791-5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
Lori Yeghiayan, Associate Director of Communications
(323) 860-5227 work, (323) 377-4312 mobile
lori.yeghiayan@aidshealth.org


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