By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Disturbing new numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control show that a majority of Philadelphia’s new HIV cases already have full blown AIDS at the time of diagnosis.
The numbers come from the CDC’s HIV Surveillance Report that is released every three years. The latest statistics come from 2011 and show Philadelphia is ranked 24th among metro areas in terms of new diagnoses, with 12,000 people living with AIDS in the city.
“Just under a thousand Philadelphians were newly diagnosed,” says Kevin Burns, executive director of ActionAIDS. “Those numbers are unacceptably high.”
He says 75 percent of the new cases were diagnosed at Stage 3 AIDS.
“It means they have full blown AIDS when they find out that they’re sick, which is way too late in terms of the disease progression.”
Burns says late diagnosis means the patient’s immune system is seriously compromised. He says early testing is key to keep patients health and to limiting the spread of the diseases. He says testing come in part because of stigma associated with testing.
“Every person needs to be tested for AIDS, needs to be tested for HIV. This needs to be incorporated into routine testing. Every time people go to the emergency room, every time people go to the dentist, they should be tested. Routine testing would de-stigmatize testing.”