An annual report released by the Iowa Department of Public Health on Friday shows 122 Iowans were diagnosed with HIV last year. That’s up from 117 in 2012 and is six more than the five-year average.
Jerry Harms, the agency’s HIV/AIDS surveillance coordinator, says he’s not alarmed. “We do have fluctuations up and down over time and if we look back over a few years through 2013, we’ve been increasing at around 1.5 diagnoses per year. If we look farther back, we were going up at a rate of 2.5 (per year),” Harms says. “So, this could be a marker of leveling off. I know that seems contradictory…but when you look at it across time, maybe we’re slowing down or plateauing a little bit.”
Most of the diagnoses were among males, but the report shows 34 females were diagnosed with HIV last year. Harms says, most years, there are only around 20 females in Iowa diagnosed with HIV. “We don’t really know at this point why that happened,” Harms says. “We really need a few more years of data collection to see if this is just a blip or if we’ve got something that is more alarming. Right now, it’s just kind of a surprise.”
Diagnoses among Iowans 45 years and older reached an all-time high of 50 diagnoses last year. Iowans 25 to 44 years of age accounted for 44 percent of all diagnoses. Those 45 and older made up 41 percent.