Maine, AIDS, HIV Cases on Rise
Bangor Daily News
July 30, 2003
State officials say the number of people in Maine living
has never been higher, reflecting a nationwide trend.
State Bureau of Health
statistics show more than 500 people diagnosed with AIDS in
Maine and 700 with HIV. Bureau epidemiologist Mark Griswold
said that between January 1 and July 24, 2003, 33 cases of HIV
were reported. For the same period last year, the
figure was just 19, with 39
the total for the year. Twenty-eight AIDS cases have been
reported so far this year,
compared with 21 during the same period last year and 42 for
all of 2002.
"The numbers are tiny," Griswold said,
"but still it's very troubling."
He said another concern is the rise in STDs that usually
signals a change in
sexual behavior and forecasts a rise in HIV/AIDS diagnoses.
The incidence of
gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis all rose in Maine this year.
Griswold said almost all of Maine's HIV/AIDS cases result from
men having sex
with men; a secondary source is needle sharing.
Unlike the high-profile early days of HIV/AIDS prevention and
efforts, Griswold says fewer people are getting tested early.
He and Drew Thomits,
supervisor of educational programs for the Eastern Maine AIDS
Network in Bangor, attribute the general lack of public
interest to "protection fatigue" among older gay and
bisexual men, and a younger generation of men who have not
seen the ravages of AIDS
EMAN provides education, testing and support for men, women
including those who are HIV-negative, Thomits said.
Presentations at high schools
and community groups, weekly support groups and anonymous HIV
testing at its offices and other locations, including jails
and substance abuse centers, help spread the word about
prevention and treatment, Thomits said.