The number of AIDS cases in North Carolina increased dramatically in 2002, with 1,014 new cases reported, an increase of 16% over the 871 cases reported in 2001, state health officials said Wednesday. The increase resulted in the state's reporting of more than 1,000 new AIDS cases for the first time since 1994.
"This epidemic is not under control," said state health director Leah Devlin. "We're moving in the wrong direction. The South has more persons living with AIDS than other geographic areas of the nation. North Carolina is part of this trend." Devlin said the reasons for the increasing number of AIDS cases is that many people lack access to health care, which allows HIV infection to go undetected and possibly progress to AIDS, and that restrictions to the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program--including closing the program to new enrollees--may be keeping HIV-positive people from getting the drugs they need to treat HIV disease.