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HIV/STD Numbers in North Carolina Remain High; Health Leaders Urge Testing

For release: Immediate    Dec. 1, 2010
Contact: Julie Henry, 919-707-5053

RALEIGH – North Carolina health leaders say new research into medications that might prevent the spread of HIV with a daily pill could herald a new era in preventing HIV infections, but regular testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remains the best and most effective way to stop the spread in our state. In 2009, a total of 1,710 new HIV cases were reported in North Carolina. Preliminary estimates indicate at least the same number of new cases is expected for 2010.

In North Carolina, one in 268 people is infected with HIV disease. This number includes those who may not be aware that they are infected.

“The research into HIV prevention is groundbreaking,” State Health Director Jeff Engel said. “The medication was tested in specific high-risk populations and it is effective when used along with regular testing, the use of condoms and other prevention methods. Until more studies are done, we encourage anyone who is sexually active to learn their HIV and STD status so they can take steps to protect their own health and the health of their partner.”

In recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, several health departments and community based organizations are offering free HIV/STD testing events. For a list of ongoing testing opportunities, visit http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/hiv/.

New data from 2010 also shows that syphilis numbers are on the decline. Statewide, a total of 561 cases of early (infectious) syphilis were reported in the state for the first nine months of 2010, slightly lower than the same time last year. However, several counties continue to see high numbers of new cases. In Cumberland, Pitt and Robeson counties, the number of syphilis cases from January 2010 through September 2010 was at least double the number in the same time period in 2009.

From January to September 2010, over 45,000 cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia were reported statewide.

“Testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases is available across the state at local health departments and other health centers,” North Carolina AIDS Director Jacquelyn Clymore said. “Responding to possible symptoms and going to the doctor earlier, rather than later, ensures that patients will get the treatment and advice they need.”

During 2010, Gov. Bev Perdue and the N.C. General Assembly provided $14 million in the state budget to provide access to lifesaving medications for HIV patients through the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).

The most recent case statistics on syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and AIDS incidence rates in North Carolina are available at the N.C. Division of Public Health’s Communicable Disease branch website at http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/hiv/stats.html.