The HIV epidemic is now slowly and progressively spreading into the adolescents of our nation. How is this being concealed? HIV
disease is not considered a reportable disease in any of the states where the epidemic is well established (with the exception of New
Jersey). All that is ordinarily reported to the CDC by state public health officials are AIDS statistics. However, since there is a 10-year
latency period between the onset of HIV infection and terminal-stage HIV disease (customarily referred to as AIDS), AIDS statistics
are only of historical interest. AIDS statistics reveal the pattern of spread of HIV disease 10 years earlier.
There is, however, one bright spot in this tragic scenario. Recently the CDC has begun to compile the results of HIV case monitoring from the 12 states where all HIV cases are reportable by law and from the 13 states where some cases are reportable. Unfortunately, none of these states, with the exception of New Jersey, have a significant incidence of HIV disease but their statistics do give us a glimpse of the true extent of the real epidemic in America, the HIV epidemic. (1) Among males 13 to 19 years of age, there were 995 cases of HIV disease reported. Of these, slightly under half were acquired by homosexual activity. Of the 6285 men with HIV disease ages 20-24, slightly over half became infected through homosexual contacts. Many of the 6285 cases reported were obviously infected while they were still teenagers . This persistent, relatively high rate of homosexual spread of HIV disease clearly demonstrates the bankruptcy of current public health policy which relies almost exclusively upon education and condom distribution to stop further spread of the epidemic.... rather than utilizing routine, voluntary testing of the population, contact tracing and partner notification as was used so successfully against the syphilis epidemic in decades past.
Among girls, HIV reporting statistics reveal that the primary means of spread of HIV disease is heterosexual. 42% of all HIV cases in girls 13-19 and 40% of all cases in girls 20-24 were acquired by heterosexual contact. How were the rest of the cases acquired? They are classified as "No Identifiable Cause" because the CDC has been unwilling to do the contact tracing and follow-up needed to monitor and control further spread of HIV disease among young people. Certainly contact tracing and partner notification should be the cornerstones of any public health approach intent upon stopping this epidemic; however, CDC representative Patricia Fleming Ph.D., chief of the reporting and analysis section of HIV/AIDS at the CDC, when questioned as to why the CDC was not pursuing contact tracing or monitoring the thousands of cases of HIV disease newly reported in adolescents and young adults, stated: "We simply have not been allocated resources to do the same intensive follow-up with persons with HIV (as we do with AIDS-ed) and it is unfortunate because it would be extremely helpful... "(2) Thus it would appear that CDC officials prefer to track AIDS cases, where it is usually impossible to identify infected partners (because of the long incubation period) and where tracing usually provides no benefit other than the compilation of further statistics. On the other hand, CDC's monitoring of HIV disease could save the lives of millions of our youth who will eventually become infected if we continue to following our present disastrous path. Is this madness or something far more sinister?
It is interesting to observe that the CDC has had no shortage of money for the funding of their condom education programs, including the TV advertisements which shows a condom jumping out of an open bedroom drawer, bouncing across the floor , then jumping into bed with a couple locked in passionate embrace. It seems quite obvious that abundant funding is readily available to finance condom education but tragically there are no funds available to attempt to identify those who are knowingly or unknowingly spreading HIV disease among the youth of our nation.
(1) HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 1993. Available from the CDC, Atlanta, Georgia, on request.
(2) AIDS Alert, May 1994, pages 73 -74-.P.O. Box 740056, Atlanta, Georgia, 30374