HIV increase in New York is three times the national rate. The virus that causes AIDS is spreading in New York City at three times the national rate, according to a study released on Wednesday by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The study, reports The New York Times, shows that in New York there are 72 new cases of HIV infections for every 100,000 people, compared with 23 per 100,000 nationally. The findings, based on a new formula developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated that 4,762 New Yorkers contracted HIV in 2006, the most precise estimate the city has ever offered. But city officials stress that because the method of estimating infections was new, it could not be said definitively whether the number of new infections in the city had increased or decreased from previous years. Blacks, and men who have sex with other men, are the groups at greatest risk of contracting HIV, the study found. Blacks made up 46 percent of the newly infected; Hispanics, 32 percent; and Whites, 21 percent. Men accounted for 76 percent of new HIV infections and women for 25 percent. (The figures exceed 100 percent because of rounding.) Sex between men was the main cause in 50 percent of new infections; high-risk heterosexual sex in 22 percent; intravenous drug use in 8 percent; and unknown or uncertain causes in 18 percent. Over all, the study found some interesting differences between national and local rates of new HIV infections. Nearly two-thirds of the city’s new infections occurred in people 30 to 50 years old. Nationally, people under 30 accounted for 41 percent of new infections, compared with 28 percent in New York City. Also, within New York City, Whites were infected at four times the national rate, Hispanics at three times the national rate, and Blacks at almost twice the national rate.
The number of uninsured Americans drops. The number of Americans without health insurance dropped by more than 1 million people in 2007, the first yearly decline in seven years, U.S. Census Bureau officials announced Tuesday. The drop was driven largely by an increase in the number of children covered by government-funded programs. The overall number of uninsured dropped from 47 million in 2006 to 45.7 million in 2007, David Johnson, chief of the Census Bureau’s Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, said during a morning teleconference. The number of children with health insurance increased to 8.7 million in 2007, up from 8.1 million in 2006. “The number of children covered by government health insurance programs increased to 31 percent from 29.8 percent in 2006,” Johnson said. “This is the main reason for the fall in the uninsured rates in children and for the fall in uninsured rates in the general population,” he said. Among Blacks, the number of uninsured dipped from 20.5 percent in 2006 to 19.5 percent in 2007. The number of people with private health insurance did not change. However, the number of people covered by government health insurance such as Medicaid increased from 80.3 million in 2006 to 83 million in 2007. People getting their health insurance through Medicaid increased from 38.3 million in 2006 to 39.6 million in 2007. Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that seeks to promote a high-performing health care system for all Americans, thinks that the drop in the number of uninsured supports the argument for government-sponsored health insurance programs. “When you look at what’s really going on, the number of uninsured dropped by 1.3 million, and the increase in coverage under Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) went up by 1.3 million,” she said. This shows the importance of government-funded safety nets, she said.
A food allergy action plan helps protect children. Parents, teachers and school staff need to take measures to ensure the safety of the more than 2.2 million American students with food allergies, says the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. “Open and frequent communication between parents and school staff is a key ingredient to keeping food-allergic students out of harm,” Dr. Michael Pistiner, a member of the Academy’s Adverse Reactions to Foods Committee, said in an academy news release. “It takes a partnership to establish effective avoidance strategies and emergency plans.” The academy’s sample action plan and checklist of safety tips: Inform the school cafeteria, teachers and other staff of what foods your child must avoid. Pack bag lunches. Your child should avoid classroom snacks and refrain from sharing food with friends. When there’s a classroom party, provide your child with safe snacks he or she can eat during the party. And push for “no-eating” policies on buses and in other settings where there’s no supervision of children. “Parents should be aware of expiration dates and keep in contact with their allergist to insure that all medication, especially self-injectable epinephrine, is replaced prior to expiration,” adds Pistiner, whose own nut-allergic son enters kindergarten this fall. Visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology for more on food allergies and their management.