HIV estimates expected to rise

As individuals, we are all responsible for preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that at the end of 2003, between 1,039,000 and 1,185,000 people in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS. Between 24 percent and 27 percent of those people were living undiagnosed or unaware of the infection.

Now, four years later, the CDC is reviewing the number of people estimated to receive an HIV diagnosis each year, and some health officials say it’s a higher rate than previously thought.

From the preliminary numbers released, it’s unclear whether infection rates are rising or just higher than previously thought. But either way, the number of HIV/AIDS cases that arise domestically each year is distressing.

The CDC estimated 37,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS in two-thirds of the country in 2005. That number has remained stagnant since 1990. And while funding for AIDS treatment and prevention has increased abroad, it has dropped 19 percent domestically in the past five years.

The U.S. government has failed its own citizens by not doing more to prevent the spread of infections. It’s important to help stop HIV/AIDS abroad, but we cannot neglect our own citizens – our friends, neighbors, family and perhaps future partners.

Part of preventing HIV and protecting fellow citizens from infection comes from each of us individually. In the United States, as opposed to third-world countries, we have the medical facilities and capabilities to each do our own part by getting tested.

At the University, Boynton Health Service offers free and confidential HIV testing for students as well as the opportunity for peer-to-peer counseling. Getting tested and asking partners if they’ve been tested is the best way to stop the spread of HIV.

The responsibility of lowering the rate of infection falls not only on the government, but as individuals, we’re also each responsible.