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Iowa reports
highest number of new HIV cases in eight years

Iowa reports
highest number of new HIV cases in eight years

Iowa recorded 113 new HIV diagnoses in 2005, the most infections since HIV tracking there began, the state health department reports. New diagnoses had just recently begun edging down from Iowa's previous record 108 in 2002, with 92 cases in 2003 and 106 in 2004, officials said. Iowa began tracking new HIV infections in 1998, when it recorded 100 cases.

"I would like this to be a wake-up call to action," said Randy Mayer, who heads the health department's HIV/AIDS/hepatitis program. "It's not a huge peak, but it's an upward turn."

Of the 113 diagnoses, nearly 75% were contracted by men having sex with men, mirroring a trend seen in high-population areas of other states, said Mayer. For the last two years, new HIV diagnoses have concentrated among white, U.S.-born men, data show. The youngest case was a 20-year-old man; the median age was 41. Almost 80% of diagnoses occurred in residents of the 10 most populous counties, especially Polk, Johnson, Linn, Scott, and Pottawattamie counties.

Mayer cited complacency among men for the increase. "It's a younger group that's not afraid as the older group used to be," he said.

The report noted that effective anti-HIV drugs in wide use have led to a decrease in AIDS mortality, and thus a rise in the population living with HIV. As of December, the health department reported 1,343 residents were HIV-positive, and an estimated 498 residents are infected but undiagnosed. (AP)

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