February 22, 1996
AIDS CASES DECLINE; FIRST ANNUAL DROP IN 15 YEARS
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- The number of AIDS cases reported in Illinois last year dropped 28 percent, the first annual decrease recorded in the state since the epidemic began in 1981, Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, announced today.
In 1995, 2,186 AIDS cases were reported, bringing the cumulative total in Illinois since 1981 to 16,375, the sixth highest in the United States. In 1994, 3,040 AIDS cases were reported.
"It is too early to tell if this signals that AIDS cases have peaked in our state, but hopefully this is the start of a downward trend," Dr. Lumpkin said. "What the statistics do provide is evidence that national, state and local education and prevention efforts initiated over the past decade are having an impact."
Dr. Lumpkin said the drop in AIDS cases also underscores clinical advances that have been made in developing new and more effective drug treatments, which allow HIV infected people to remain healthier longer and delay the progression to full-blown AIDS.
While there is cause for optimism, Dr. Lumpkin noted it is not time to become complacent and he cautioned that AIDS will continue to cost thousands of lives each year, many of them young adults.
In 1994, the most recent year for which complete death statistics are available, HIV infection was the leading cause of death for African-American males 25 to 44 years of age in Illinois and the second leading killer of all young adults 25 to 44 years of age. HIV claimed the lives of 397 African-American males in 1994 and a total of 1,097 young adults. Among young adults, HIV trailed only unintentional injuries, which killed 1,292, in cause of death. Since the first case of AIDS was reported in 1981, 10,308 Illinois residents have died with HIV infection.
"The human toll in lives and suffering is staggering," Dr. Lumpkin said. "The encouraging news is we know, by making informed behavioral choices, that this disease can be prevented. We must continue to remind people that sexual and drug using behaviors can place them at risk of HIV infection and to encourage them to use that information in making informed choices."
Overall, the 1995 statistics show men still account for the majority of the cases (82 percent), but the proportion of AIDS cases among women continues to climb. Women accounted for 18 percent of the cases in 1995 compared with 15 percent in 1994 and just 10 percent in 1991.
Men who have sex with men still account for the largest number of AIDS cases (43 percent), followed by cases associated with injection drug use (32 percent). Injection drug use is partially responsible for higher numbers of women being affected by the AIDS epidemic.
While African Americans and Hispanics represent only about one-quarter of the state's population, they accounted for 65 percent, or 1,415, of the new cases reported in 1995, compared with 60 percent of the cases in 1994 and 50 percent five years ago.
The number of cases among African Americans declined in 1995, but their proportion of all cases increased. African Americans accounted for 52 percent of the cases in 1995 compared to 48 percent in 1994. The percentage of cases among Hispanics remained the same as in 1994 (12 percent). AIDS cases among whites decreased from 39 percent of the cases reported in 1994 to 34 percent in 1995.
"Among the changing facets and aspects of this epidemic, the one trend that has remained disturbingly constant is that African-American men and women are overrepresented in every AIDS behavioral risk category," Dr. Lumpkin said. "There is a need to get the prevention message to everyone, but especially to those in minority communities."
Geographically, AIDS cases in the city of Chicago decreased 30 percent; cases in the Chicago metropolitan area, including Chicago, decreased 31 percent; and downstate cases declined 7 percent compared with 1994. The proportion of all cases reported downstate increased from 11 percent of the total in 1994 to 14 percent in 1995. For the first time, Mason County reported an AIDS case, bringing to 97 the number of Illinois counties that have reported an AIDS case.
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