The number of new AIDS cases in inland Southern California has risen 76% over the past two years, with many new diagnoses occurring among minorities and young people. According to a draft report published by the Inland Empire HIV Planning Council, there were 3,670 people with AIDS in San Bernardino and Riverside counties at the end of 2001. Although the increase is due in part to an influx of people with AIDS moving to "gay-friendly" inland areas such as Palm Springs, the report notes that HIV is spreading from gay men and other high-risk groups to the general population.
Victoria Jauregui Burns, chief of HIV programs in Riverside County, said that because minorities tend to receive treatment at a later stage of HIV infection than white individuals, outreach efforts must be extended to minority communities. Steven English, chairman of the board of Inland AIDS Project, said agencies must employ outreach workers who are comfortable with the specific communities they are targeting, adding that his organization has created a committee to involve more minorities in HIV outreach efforts.
California implemented an HIV reporting system last summer, and statistics on HIV infections in the area should be known in six to eight months, Jauregui Burns said.