The number of new AIDS cases in the U-S rose in 2002 for the first time in 10 years, but Randy Mayer of the Iowa Department of Public Health says that’s not the trend here. There was a decrease in the number of diagnosed AIDS cases in Iowa last year, and Mayer says they’ve been on the decline since 1999. Sixty-four Iowa residents were diagnosed with AIDS in 1998, then there was a slight increase the following year. But since ’99, there’s been a slight decrease that Mayer says health officials should “feel pretty good about.” Mayer says, however, there is an increase in the number of Iowans who’re testing positive for the virus that causes AIDS. Last year, 103 Iowa residents tested positive for H-I-V, the virus that causes AIDS. That was a seven percent increase from the year before. Mayer says the increases in the numbers of people in Iowa who’re diagnosed with H-I-V can be almost solely attributed to foreign-born people who’re temporary residents of the state. Mayer says about half are Hispanic and come from Central or South America, and the other half were born in Africa. Mayer says it’s important to note that the list of foreign-born Iowa residents who have tested positive for H-I-V does NOT include refugees or official immigrants. Instead, those foreign-born Iowans who’ve had a positive H-I-V test are either illegal immigrants, those visiting Iowa on a temporary visa, or foreigners in Iowa with a student visa. AIDS experts meeting this week at the National H-I-V Prevention Conference in Atlanta say as many as 950,000 Americans have the AIDS virus, and just over 16,000 Americans died of the disease last year.
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