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HIV/AIDS hospitalizations drop in California

November 30, 2011 | 12:06 pm

California has made dramatic gains in reducing the hospitalization rates of people living with HIV and AIDS, but there are still racial disparities, according to a new state report.

Hospital deaths of HIV and AIDS patients also declined between 1988 and 2008, underscoring the role of antiretroviral drugs. During that time, the percentage of hospitalizations that ended in death dropped from 13% to 5%, according to the report.

The report, by California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, was released Wednesday on the eve of World AIDS Day.

“There have been some miraculous advancements in treatments,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health. But, he said, there are still many challenges.

The number of people living with HIV or AIDS continued to increase between 1998 and 2008, according to the report. By the end of 2009, there were nearly 122,000 people in California living with HIV or AIDS. 

One of biggest challenges, Chapman said, is trying to eliminate health disparities along racial lines. “Across the board, we still have a lot of work to do in that area,” he said.

From 1988 to 2008, the hospitalization rates have remained highest for blacks living with HIV or AIDS.  Latinos constitute the largest ethnic group newly diagnosed with HIV.

Chapman and other state health officials said the data show the importance of testing and access to treatment.

One in five people with HIV do not know they are infected and nearly three-quarters of people living with HIV do not have their infection under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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