New HIV infections down in Baltimore
New HIV infections are down nearly 24% in West Baltimore since 1999, marking a decline in the only area of the city that posted increases in infection rates in the mid to late 1990s, the Baltimore Sun reports. The decrease in West Baltimore--an area marked by poverty, crime, and rampant drug use--is tied to stepped-up outreach efforts by the city Health Department and numerous Baltimore HIV/AIDS organizations. These efforts included an expanded needle-exchange program, prevention-oriented billboards and advertisements in bus shelters, and new HIV testing and referral centers. More than $3 million was spent on the prevention outreach. The infection rate fell from 209 cases per 100,000 people in 1999 to 159 cases per 100,000 last year. But the city still has the nation's third-highest rate of new HIV infections, trailing only New York City and Miami.