April 17, 1997
Gov't Releases Report on AIDS Rates
ATLANTA (AP) -- The AIDS rate doubled last year in Baton Rouge, La., fell by a third in Dallas and held steady in New York at the highest level in the nation, the government said Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it could not immediately explain the ups and downs but said that the increases do not necessarily mean the disease is on the rise.
The numbers reflect all cases of AIDS that existed in those cities in 1996, not just the number of new cases diagnosed that year. New cases are a better indicator of whether the disease is on the rise.
Behind New York City on the list were Miami and Jersey City, N.J., which were also among the highest in 1995. San Francisco, which had the second- highest rate in 1995, fell to fourth.
``This reinforces the consistent picture we are seeing -- that AIDS rates continue to be the highest in the Northeast, Southeast and the West Coast,'' said Patricia Fleming, CDC chief of HIV-AIDS reporting and analysis.
In February, the government credited better drugs and treatment for a 13 percent drop in deaths from AIDS in the first half of 1996, the first significant drop in deaths since the epidemic began.
The CDC said then that the full impact of powerful new drugs called protease inhibitors -- the mightiest attack yet on AIDS -- had yet to be seen.
``In the next three months we should be able to look at some of the possible effects these therapies had on the cities' rates,'' Ms. Fleming said.
New York City had 120.1 cases per 100,000 people in 1996, compared with the 121.4 cases per 100,000 in 1995. Miami's rate of 99.4 was down from 114.8, and Jersey City reported 97.7 in 1996, compared with 138.2 the year before.
Several cities showed drops: Dallas' rate of 29.3 cases per 100,000 was down from 43.2 in 1995. New Haven, Conn., had a rate of 37.3 in 1996, compared with 57.9 the year before.
In Baton Rouge, the rate jumped from 21.5 cases per 100,000 in 1995 to 58.5 cases last year.
``The epidemic was transmitted among men who have sex with men in New York and Los Angeles, making the early epicenters of the disease San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. It then spread throughout the East Coast,'' Ms. Fleming said. ``These continue to be the areas we need to focus on in the need for prevention and treatments for people with HIV and AIDS.''