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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

Universities Struggle to Stem Outbreak of HIV




 

News Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)(10.13.03) - Friday, October 17,

Last summer, researchers at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services traced an HIV outbreak that infected 29 or more, mostly black, male college students in the Raleigh- Durham- Chapel Hill Triangle. They identified college campuses as high- transmission areas for the virus.

As a result, for the first time all 12 historically minority campuses in the state plan to offer students free, confidential HIV testing. Minority campuses are especially vulnerable because their typically small populations increase the odds of encountering someone infected.

Larger campuses are also working on outreach. Marianne Turnbull, North Carolina State University's health promotion coordinator, said she is trying to reach students with free condoms, safe-sex messages and a "know your status" campaign.

About 56 college students at 30 North Carolina schools have tested HIV-positive since 2000, according to Dr. Peter Leone, associate professor of medicine at UNC-CH and medical director for HIV/STD Prevention and Care at the state health department.

Researchers found that many of the men were meeting sexual partners at clubs or on the Internet. In August, a five-person CDC team went to North Carolina to determine what other factors contributed to the epidemic, and why safe sex messages were not being heeded. Part of the problem may be that young black men are especially more likely to stay in the closet about having sex with other men, according to CDC studies.

Message fatigue may be another problem on campuses. Students who no longer see sick people become complacent about the disease, Turnbull said.

Phyllis Gray of the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch started working with historically minority schools on AIDS prevention last June, because the disease disproportionately affects minorities. In North Carolina, African-Americans are 11 times as likely to be infected as whites, Gray said.



 


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Information in this article was accurate in October 17, 2003. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.