A new report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health finds that no infants were diagnosed with HIV in 2009 for the first time since 1999, the first year the county began tracking infected mothers.
“While it is heartening to see that treatment has allowed those with HIV to live longer, healthier lives, and education and drug therapy has helped prevent the spread of HIV from infected mothers to their babies, much more work needs to be done,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, director of public health. “It is important that we continue educating people that HIV is a preventable disease, and that access to free HIV testing, treatment, medication and care is available. One new case of HIV is one too many for Los Angeles County.”
The report may detail the positive strides that have been made against HIV/AIDS, but all the news wasn’t good. The study found that the number of county residents living with HIV/AIDS continues to increase. It is now estimated that more than 62,000 people are infected with HIV and AIDS, and over one in five of that number is not aware they are infected (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
“Studies have shown that individuals who are unaware they are infected with HIV account for the majority of new HIV infections each year,” said Fielding. “It is critical that everyone in L.A. County know their HIV status, even if they do not think they are at risk. Getting tested for HIV does not automatically mean you are promiscuous or a drug user. It means that you are in control of your health and are taking steps to protect the health of others.”
The report, titled “The 2009 Epidemiologic Profile of HIV and AIDS in Los Angeles County,” tracks the risk factors behind the spread of HIV/AIDS and any changes in those infected with HIV/AIDS in order to help guide efforts of treatment and prevention.