I wanted to thank you for the wonderful article that you wrote about my retirement. (BTL:November 8, 2007; Vol 15.44). It was delightful and powerful, and expressed my passions and articulated the issues for HIV infected youth. I did however want to clarify a mis-communication that is important to discuss for the HIV community, statistical teams and the health departments.
The 1200 that was quoted for the number of clients that I have seen was actual the number of estimated HIV infected youth in the greater Detroit area. I have not seen 1200 HIV infected youth. I have certainly seen greater than that many youth at risk, but not actually known to be positive. Some statistical items follow from the MDCH (MI Dept of Community Health) to help clarify this issue.
In the U.S., according to the CDC, at the end of 2005, there were 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS, with 40,000 new infections per year and about 25% of those living with HIV do not know they are infected (2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic) According to MDCH, there is a estimated prevalence of 17,000 HIV infected people in MI. The prevalence of those infected between 13-24 years is 2,060(about 17% of the total cases), and since the greater Detroit area has about 2/3 of the HIV cases in MI, there are approximately 1200 estimated cases of adolescents and young adults in this area.
Since many of the HIV infected youth do not know that they are infected, there is a new push by the CDC to do more routine testing for HIV. There is also a need for prevention services, which are currently being cut because of the fiscal crisis. It is important to work diligently in this area, to contact your state and federal representatives to fund these important projects (Making sure that they are relevant for all teens and not just the lecture on abstinence which has not show to be efficacious in HIV prevention (esp. for higher risk youth); and encourage our at-risk youth to consider HIV counseling and testing.
Again, thank for your support and kind words. May we keep out youth well and assist them to make healthy decisions and give them the opportunities, skills, and encouragement that they need to find success.
My best to you,
Dr. Kathryn Wright
Founder of the Horizons Project