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Number of newly diagnosed HIV cases down by 1/3 from a decade ago

A sign for free HIV testing is seen outside a Walgreens pharmacy in Times Square on June 27, 2012 in New York City.
A sign for free HIV testing is seen outside a Walgreens pharmacy in Times Square on June 27, 2012 in New York City.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The bad news is that 16 out of every 100,000 people over the age of 13 in the US were diagnosed with HIV in 2011, the good news is that the number of newly diagnosed cases was down by 33% from 2002, when 24 out of every 100,000 people were reportedly infected with the disease according to a new government study led by David Holtgrave of Johns Hopkins University. Data for the study was gathered from health departments in all 50 states, which in turn got test results from doctors’ offices, hospitals and health clinics spanning a 10-year period. The declines were seen in both male and female heterosexuals, whites, blacks and Hispanics, as well as drug users of the majority of age groups. Diagnoses for AIDS, however, increased for both gays and bisexuals.

Although the reason for the decrease has not yet been determines, “it is encouraging,” commented Patrick Sullivan, an aids researcher from Emory University in Atlanta, GA., who was not part of this particular study.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are more than 35 million people throughout the world currently infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS, which destroys the immune system. 1.1 million of those cases are spread throughout the United States, although many of those people may not realize that they have it. In fact, many people who are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus do not exhibit any symptoms for as long as 10 years or more, while those who do may not realize that what they are experiencing at first is not just a case of “the worst flu ever,” according to the CDC, which states that some people may experience fever, swollen glands, sore throat, rash, fatigue, muscle ache and joint pains as well as headaches within 2-4 weeks after contracting the disease. These may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and are called “acute retroviral syndrome (ARS) or primary HIV infection, and are the body’s natural response to the HIV infection.”

Those who suspect they might have been infected with HIV, however, are urged to get tested right aways. For more information about where to find testing sites in your area speak with you doctor, or contact your local health department.