Data on HIV infections in North Carolina show that 2003 marked the third year in a row that new HIV infections reported in the state climbed, with 71% of the state's HIV cases now among African-Americans, the Raleigh News and Observer reports. A total of 2,100 new HIV infections were reported in the state last year. Thirty-two percent of the state's total 25,000 HIV cases were among women, according to state health officials. Heterosexual sex accounted for 83% of the new HIV infections among women reported in 2003, with drug use accounting for 11%. Gay and bisexual men remained most at risk for HIV infection in 2003, say state officials.
The three-year spike in HIV infections represents a failure of public policy, said Evelyn Foust, head of the state health department's HIV/STD prevention and care branch. She said little money is available for HIV education and prevention efforts, but she warns that a failure to spend money now on HIV prevention will result in larger expenditures later as more people become infected and need expensive antiretroviral treatment through public health programs.