At a press conference on Wednesday, state public health officials said California has the second-highest rate of HIV infections in the U.S., despite a significant drop in new diagnoses each year, Payers & Providers reports.
In 2013, 4,712 Californians were diagnosed with HIV — down from 5,494 in 2012. Those rates are down “dramatically” from the approximately 13,000 Californians who were diagnosed with the infection annually in the 1980s and 1990s, according to Payers & Providers.
Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist and deputy director for infectious diseases, said, “While this represents significant progress, at least 400 people are newly diagnosed every month” in California (Shinkman, Payers & Providers, 11/19).
In addition, a total of 137,000 Californians are living with HIV, according to Chavez. He said the large number of infected state residents largely is “due to individuals living full life spans with HIV infections as a result of the improved treatment and medical care” (Dador, ABC 7, 11/18).
Just one state — Florida — has a higher rate of HIV infection diagnoses than California.
In addition, the state Department of Public Health said at least 15,000 Californians likely have HIV but have not yet been diagnosed.
Meanwhile, Karen Mark, head of DPH’s AIDS office, said just half of HIV-diagnosed individuals currently receive proper care for the infection, while just 45% are considered “virally suppressed” (Payers & Providers, 11/19).