Saturday, May 09, 2009

HIV Update

Here is a link to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website. There is no point in guessing or supposing or listening to opinions when the actual facts and statistics are available.

Under AIDS cases, click on "AIDS Cases by Transmission Category" The first table shows new cases reported in 2007. The second shows all cases cumulatively, from the beginning of the epidemic until the end of 2007. It is important to note which categories most of us are not in:

We are not having male-to-male sexual contact. (16,749)
We are not using injectible drugs. (6,010)
We are not both having male-to-male sexual contact and using injectible drugs (1,664)
We are not having high risk heterosexual contact ( 1,111)
(defined as "**Heterosexual contact with a person known to have, or to be at high risk for, HIV infection.", i.e. gays and drug injecters)

We are in the category of Other. But within Other, we are not "*** Includes hemophilia, blood transfusion, perinatal exposure," (400)

Besides hemophiliacs and newborns, Other includes, "risk not reported or not identified." I think that does not represent a transmission category so much as the limits of the accuracy and completeness of the statistical reporting to the CDC.

Which means that fewer than 220 non-hemophiliac, non-newborn, women not known to be in the defined categories got HIV in 2007 in the United States, and fewer than 180 such men.

According to the National Lightning Safety Institute there were 756 deaths in the US from lightning between 1990 and 2003. (I am not making this up. ) While that is fewer per year than women and men getting HIV, it is of the same order of magnitude.

Just as one is not going to give up any of the pleasures of life from fear of being struck by lightning, neither should one give them up out of fear of a comparable risk of HIV transmission.

However in all candor, I should point out that the National Lightning Safety Institute's figures show casualties only from naturally occurring lightning. The particular activities which these figures show are not particularly risky, are precisely those most likely to provoke bolts of divine wrath, if not from heaven then from your mother.

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