Dramatic Surge Seen in Local HIV Cases
HIV infections among gay men have increased dramatically
over the past two
years in King County, Wash., and health
renewing their pleas for caution and vigilance
disease. A new analysis shows HIV infections
public health clinics jumped 40 percent last year
and are projected
to increase by another 60 percent this year.
most dramatic increase since the beginning of the
more than 20 years ago, said Dr. Bob Wood, director of
AIDS control for
Public Health - Seattle and King County.
Decreased fears of the disease, based on the availability of
new drugs, have
combined with safe sex message burnout to cause
behavior. Gay and bisexual men comprise about 85
percent of the
cumulative AIDS cases in King County.
Health officials based their analysis on HIV test results
clinics beginning in 2000. The clinics generally see
patients who have
high infection risks, so increases in private
are fewer, Wood said. Officials estimate 400 to
500 new HIV
infections in King County each year.
The health department and community-based HIV organizations
are urging gay
men to be tested for the virus, disclose their
status to sexual
partners, and practice safe sex. The health
begun a pilot project offering a new rapid HIV
test that gives
results in 20 minutes. "We need to take HIV out
of the closet.
It's the responsibility of all guys who are
to be talking about it. And don't be afraid to
talk about it if
you have it," said Jack Johnston, program
Positive Power, a group that helps HIV-positive
Wood estimated about 8,400 King County residents are living
compared to 7,500 two years ago. About 3,000 have AIDS.
"I think a
lot of my friends who have died would be rolling over
in their graves
about now," said Wood, who has battled AIDS for
years but is now
relatively healthy. "I think they would say to
'Don't you guys care? Did I have to die for