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U.S. HIV Cases Top 1 Million

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States. The numbers are up mainly because people are living longer with HIV, but the epidemic is worsening in the African-American community, as NPR's Brenda Wilson reports.

BRENDA WILSON reporting:

What's really scary, one health official says, is that the number of people voluntarily seeking to be tested for HIV in the United States has dropped from 34 percent in 1998 to 12 percent in 2002. A fourth of the people who are HIV positive don't know it. Nowhere is that more alarming than among young black males, where rates of infection remain high. In a survey of Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and San Francisco in the past year, 46 percent of the black men surveyed at local bars and dance clubs were HIV positive. Gary English of People of Color in Crisis says it's outrageous.

Mr. GARY ENGLISH (People of Color in Crisis): We have people who are very young who are contracting HIV and AIDS at a record number, and so we have to do something about it. And I think it's about courage. Enough is enough.

WILSON: Black gays, English said, need to demand that the government do more. Dr. Ron Valdiserri of the CDC says the federal government doesn't focus on a particular group. Prevention is done by the states.

Dr. RON VALDISERRI (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): We remain committed to addressing this situation, but again, government can't do this alone. We have to have the support of the communities and other sectors to be able to address this extremely important health problem.

WILSON: Among other groups, rates of infection declined for all women in the last decade. Whites accounted for 34 percent of infections, Hispanics, 17 percent. Brenda Wilson, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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