An AIDS lobby group accused the CDC today of “stonewalling” on data that purportedly show a 48% one-year jump in new HIV infections.

by Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today


Los Angeles, CA, March 28
 — An AIDS lobby group accused the CDC today of “stonewalling” on data that purportedly show a 48% one-year jump in new HIV infections.

For its part, the CDC responded that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the lobby group, misinterpreted the new data.

The AHF alleged that the CDC “quietly released” figures showing 52,878 new HIV infections in 2006, up from 35,537 reported in 2005 — a change the organization called a “catastrophe.”

“The CDC has essentially hidden this information,” AHF president Michael Weinstein said in a telephone press conference, claiming that his organization has been asking for the data since November.

But the CDC said the apparent increase is a result of new methods of collecting data, including adding numbers from eight states in 2006 that were not in the 2005 data.

A spokesman for the CDC added that the numbers do not in fact reflect new infections, but only newly reported diagnoses for each year. “These data do not include new HIV infections,” said Robert Janssen, M.D., director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

What’s more, he said in a statement, “the 2006 surveillance report does not show an increase in HIV/AIDS diagnoses” and the apparent increase is just a result of adding states that had not previously been included. The CDC is still working on a way of reporting new HIV infections on a yearly basis, the agency said.

The agency said the two numbers are not the same, because a person might have been infected earlier, but only have the diagnosis reported in 2006.

The agency said the 2006 HIV surveillance report included — for the first time — data on new diagnoses from California, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.

All told, those states account for 18,747 cases of HIV infection reported in 2006 — more than the 17,341 difference between the 2005 and 2006 totals cited by the AHF.

Weinstein countered that the difference in which states are included in the two summaries is “immaterial.” “The bottom line is that there are 50% more infections in the U.S. than were previously assumed,” he declared.

One implication of the new figures, Weinstein said, is that “by any reasonable evaluation, HIV prevention in the U.S. has failed.”

He called for a “new commitment” to stop AIDS and for greatly expanded routine testing for HIV.


Reviewed by Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Published: March 28, 2008

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