Indianapolis Star (08.26.02) - Thursday, August 29, 2002
Reported cases of HIV/AIDS in Marion County, Ind., appear to
be rising dramatically, possibly on a pace to be the most
since 1994. But health officials cannot yet say whether that
means infection rates are growing. Stepped-up efforts to have
people tested and diagnosed could, in some cases, be
identifying people sooner. In others, it might put on record
people diagnosed in another state but now living in Indiana.
But the increased numbers locally also could be an echo of the
syphilis epidemic of 1999, said Dr. Virginia Caine, director
of the Marion County Health Department.
Through July 31, 160 cases of AIDS were reported in Marion
County. By the same time in 2001, 76 cases had been reported.
In fact, the number of cases reported so far is higher than
all of 2001, 2000 or 1999. In 1998, the county recorded 177
AIDS cases. HIV reports are up as well. Through the end of
July, there were 149, compared with 84 through the same date
last year and 162 for all of last year. If reported HIV and
AIDS cases continue at the same pace for the rest of the year,
the 2002 total could reach or surpass the 1994 totals. In that
year, 290 cases of AIDS and 268 HIV cases were reported. The
peak numbers for Marion County were posted in 1993, when 381
people were reported with AIDS and 385 with HIV.
Statewide, numbers also are up. For the second quarter of this
year, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 207 new
HIV and 170 new AIDS cases. Both categories had hovered around
100 new cases for the past several quarters. Michael Butler,
director of the department's HIV/STD division, said it is
believed more aggressive reporting accounts for most of the
The Health Department is also looking at data to compare
recent reports of HIV/AIDS with syphilis cases, which peaked
in 1999, when 526 people in Marion County were recorded with
the STD. Of those, 416 were contagious.