Jerry Harms is the agency’s HIV/AIDS surveillance coordinator. “In 2015, we had a 27 percent increase in our new HIV diagnoses,” Harms says. The HIV Surveillance Report for 2015, released today (Thursday), shows there were 124 new HIV diagnoses last year, up from the 98 cases reported in 2014. Harms says the reason for the increase is unclear.
“But, what we’re sort of thinking is 2014 was the first year of full implementation of the Affordable Care Act and it’s possible that fewer tests were performed (that year) because providers were dealing with a bunch of new patients. Maybe in 2015, they were more prepared to test folks,” Harms says. Iowa joins other Midwestern states, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota, that reported an increase in new HIV diagnoses in 2015.
The state of Nebraska, however, reported a decrease in new cases. “Some are up and some are down. You know, just like we can’t explain the decline (in 2014) and then the increase (in 2015) all that well…it’s a little hard to compare from state to state,” Harms says. Around 2,500 people in Iowa have been diagnosed and are living with HIV.
According to Harms, Iowa is considered a “low prevalence” state. “At the end of 2015, we had about 80 per 100,000. And, to compare in the Midwest, that number was around 165 per 100,000. The national number was almost 300 per 100,000,” Harms says.
The IDPH report shows the number of deaths among HIV-infected persons diagnosed in Iowa continues to decrease since peaking at 103 deaths in 1995. In 2015, there were 20 HIV or AIDS-related deaths in Iowa.