The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has released the 2013 State of Iowa HIV and AIDS End-of-Year Surveillance Report. It shows HIV diagnoses increased a bit from the previous year, but remained below a peak of 126 in 2009. In 2013, 122 Iowans were diagnosed with HIV, five more than in 2012, and six more than the five-year average of 116.
While most diagnoses were among males, there was an increase in diagnoses among females. In 2012, 21 females were diagnosed with HIV; in 2013, the number increased to 34. Jerry Harms, HIV/AIDS Surveillance Coordinator at IDPH, says a one-year increase in diagnoses among any specific group is not especially significant. “Large percentage increases in relatively small numbers must always be viewed with caution. Such is the case with the jump in diagnoses among females in Iowa.” Several years of data are needed to establish this as a trend that warrants action.
Diagnoses among Iowans 45 years and older reached an all-time high of 50 diagnoses last year. Iowans 25 to 44 years of age accounted for 44 percent of all diagnoses; those 45 and older made up 41 percent; and youth ages 15 to 24 years made up the remaining 15 percent.
Perhaps most significantly, the report highlights an increase in late diagnoses of HIV. Nearly 40 percent of people diagnosed were considered to be late testers. Persons with late diagnoses have significant immune system impairment at the time of their HIV diagnosis, and have generally been infected for many years. “We cannot emphasize routine testing for HIV enough to primary care providers in Iowa,” said Randy Mayer, Chief of the Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis. “It may be one of our best strategies for reaching people who are unaware of their infections and are at risk of transmitting HIV to their partners.” In 2013, IDPH-funded testing sites offered nearly 5,000 HIV tests to people at risk for HIV. To see the entire surveillance report, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/HivStdHep/HIV-AIDS.aspx?prog=Hiv&pg=HivSurv.