HIV Epidemic Hits Southern Colleges
By Pamela M. Worsham, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in collaboration with North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services have uncovered an HIV outbreak throughout college campuses in the state.
The research first began as a result of a screening that found two males attending the same college had acute infection. Researchers were then prompted to further investigate the incidence by reviewing state records for confirmed HIV cases. They found 17 percent of the nearly 150 HIV positive males in the study were college students, and 88 percent of those men reported having sex with other men. Further research shows at least 84 college students in North Carolina were diagnosed with HIV between January 2000 and December 2003.
Peter Leone, M.D., co-author of the study, says the HIV epidemic is not just in North Carolina. He says: "We're able to identify cases in seven schools and five states, and the District of Columbia. Everything that we've seen really suggests that this isn't unique to North Carolina but that it really reflects a much broader issue of increasing HIV transmission in young black men throughout the Southeastern United States."
Researchers say one obstacle educators face is this group not perceiving themselves as being at risk for HIV, even though they engage in high-risk sexual activity. "Unless we are able to come up with a more targeted message to reach this group and not further stigmatize them, we are not going to make the progress we need to make," says Dr. Leone. Researchers suggest broadening the platform to include HIV education with the education of other health issues such as cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and sickle cell.
Dr. Leone says, "One of the ways to destigmatize HIV is to let at risk groups know that this isn't about sexual identification. It's about sexual active behavior, which is not too different from other health behaviors that put you at risk like smoking."
SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with Dr. Peter Leone, M.D., University of North Carolina
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.
Return to News