Report finds Ala HIV diagnosis rate on decline

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A new study found improvement with Alabama’s diagnosis rate for AIDS and the virus that causes it.

The Center for Demographic Research at Auburn Montgomery looked at state statistics for AIDS and the human immunodeficiency virus for 2012 and found both were on the decline.

The Montgomery Advertiser (http://on.mgmadv.com/JfF3gB ) reported that 12.27 people per 100,000 Alabama residents were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in 2012. That was fewer than the 13.75 people who were diagnosed per 100,000 people from 2011.

The number was lower than average for the South, but it was higher than the national average.

Yanyi Djamba, director of AUM’s Center for Demographic Research, said the decline in HIV cases could be linked to people becoming better educated about the disease.

While the drop may be small, Djamba said, it is still significant.

“Even though the change was not that much, any time you have a reduction in new cases, that’s good,” he said.

The illness affects blacks in greater numbers than other racial groups. Black made up more than 68 percent of the new infections in 2012, yet they comprise only 26 percent of Alabama’s total population.

Djamba said the rates of infection among black men were a cause of concern, due in part to ongoing stigmas within the community. Djamba said he felt encouraged that black pastors appear to be more willing than in the past to discuss the disease.

“They are more open now, and talk about ways to reach out now,” he said. “I hope they are more willing to talk about it now than before.”

The rate of syphilis infections in the state of Alabama also declined slightly, from 15.55 per 100,000 people in 2011 to 14.85 in 2012.

However, chlamydia and gonorrhea rates jumped: New chlamydia cases went from 611.21 cases per 100,000 people in 2011 to 641.60 in 2012. New gonorrhea cases went from 188.27 per 100,000 people in 2011 to 1,994.69 in 2012.

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