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US government wrong on HIV rates

A new report says the number of Americans infected by the AIDS virus each year is higher than the government has been estimating. The country had roughly 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006. an increase of about 16,000.

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Story Transcript

RITA FOLEY, ASSOCIATED PRESS: There is troubling news in the fight against HIV and AIDS in this country. More people are infected than researchers first thought.

DR. IRENE HALL, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: Our new estimate shows that the epidemic is and has been worse than we previously knew.

FOLEY: New technology is allowing doctors to measure a specific HIV antibody in the blood. That can determine if a person has been infected within the past five months.

HALL: We know that HIV infections were never as low as 40,000 per year. We estimate that about 50,000 infections occurred per year in the early 1990s.

FOLEY: In 2006, that number jumped to more than 56,000 infections. Fifty-three percent of new cases occurred among homosexual men, 45 percent among African Americans.

HALL: These estimates are a wakeup call for us all. We need to do more as individuals, as communities, and as a nation to increase testing and also to increase prevention efforts.

FOLEY: Doctors estimate there are one million people living with HIV in the United States. Twenty-five percent of those people do not know they are infected. Researchers say this new figure is due to the better blood test and new statistical methods. Rita Foley, the Associated Press.

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