New CDC Method for Estimating Number of New HIV Cases Improves Tracking of Disease

CDC estimates 6,200 new HIV infections in New York State in 2006

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 5, 2008) – A new statistical method for estimating the number of persons infected with HIV each year was announced by the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. Using this new methodology, CDC estimates there were approximately 56,300 new HIV infections in the United States in 2006. Of these, 6,200 were in New York State.

CDC cautioned that this estimate should not be compared to others previously used since the methodology is so different. CDC will soon provide assistance in the methodology used so that health departments will be able to duplicate it and better understand trends in local epidemics.

"This new method for estimating the number of new HIV cases provides us with an important tool for better understanding and tracking the number of people infected with HIV," said state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "Our state continues to be heavily impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Through December 2006, New York reported 176,008 cumulative AIDS cases, more than any other state. Approximately 80 percent of new cases are among people of color. Better information will help us with planning and targeting programs with the goal of eliminating the transmission and spread of this disease."

This new methodology is made possible by a breakthrough in technology that can distinguish recent from longstanding infections. This represents an important advance because a person may have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, for a decade or more before becoming ill enough to seek testing and medical care.

"New York has had tremendous successes in HIV prevention such as the near elimination of transmission to newborns and the dramatic decrease of new infections among injection drug users. But there is more that needs to be done, especially concerning sexual transmission of the virus, which is the predominant route of transmission," said Humberto Cruz, Director of the state Health Department's AIDS Institute.