My interest is always piqued as soon as a news report refers to rates of some disease being “on the rise”. I’m usually disappointed as I wait to hear the details since often no actual numbers are provided.
Last week a CKOM news brief declared “Heterosexual sex HIV transmission on rise in Sask“. Really? No details are provided, just quotes from an AIDS Saskatoon coordinator.
What are the actual numbers?* 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Total HIV cases 94 74 66 55 43
Heterosexual sex transmission 12 11 12 13 9
Injection drug use transmission** 76 56 49 34 28
The total number of new HIV cases in the health region is falling and this decrease is primarily among injection drug users. When the percent of cases associated with one cause decreases, the other causes increase as a percent of the total. In 2009, 81% of HIV transmission was via IDU and 12% from heterosexual sex compared to 65% and 21% respectively in 2013.
Conclusion? Heterosexual HIV transmission in the Saskatoon Health Region is not increasing. A larger percentage of cases are the result of heterosexual sexual contact but there are a smaller number of cases.
I also noted that 68% of cases had heterosexual contact with an injection drug user and 30% of cases had sexual contact with a confirmed or suspected HIV+ person.
*Information from the Saskatoon Health Region’s “HIV Strategy Report 2012-2013” and “Better Health for All Series 5: Rates of HIV declining but more needs to be done“.
** Could be +/- 1 since I used a graph to estimate the percentage in each category.