AIDS statistics show state rise

By Matt Michalek

Although there were no new cases of AIDS in DeKalb County last year, statewide totals rose by one-third in 1991, state health officials said.

Lydonne McShannon, DeKalb County Health Department’s communicable disease program coordinator, said none of the new cases of AIDS reported were in DeKalb County.

Michael Haines, coordinator of Health Enhancement Services, said these figures do not reflect on the rate of HIV infection at NIU, though.

It takes a long period of time to develop AIDS from HIV infection, he said. The new AIDS cases in Illinois probably were HIV positive in 1982 or 1983, he said.

These new AIDS figures do not give an indication of the HIV infection rate now, he said.

aines said because NIU does not require student blood tests, there is no exact number of NIU students with HIV infection.

“We have to use other means to estimate the rate of HIV infection on campus,” he said.

Statistics from various health departments and from the Heartland Blood Center, which conducts blood drives on campus, is one way to estimate the HIV infection rate, he said.

Dr. Dominique Bazeile, assistant medical director of the Heartland Blood Center, said there were no cases of HIV-positive blood donated from NIU.

“This does not mean that NIU is necessarily safe,” she said. “It may be that the general population that donates blood at NIU is a low risk population.”

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and the American College Health Association have conducted random HIV testing on college campuses nationwide for the last two years, Haines said.

Overall, the center and college found an average of two cases of HIV infection for 1000 students.

“Now this is just an average of all the campuses they tested nationwide,” Haines said. “Some campuses were as high as nine cases per 1,000 students, and some had less than one case per 2,000 students.”

The average stayed the same during the two tested years with two cases of HIV infection per 1,000 students, he said.

From this information, the estimated HIV-positive rate on campus is low, but there still is an element of uncertainty, Haines said.

“Overall the HIV rate on campus does not appear any higher than two per every 1,000 students,” he said.

Haines said if the figures are worked out, there are approximately 46 HIV-infected students on campus.

Education about AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases could decrease the frequency of HIV infection at NIU, Haines said.

Health Enhancement Services conducts educational presentations about AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases, as well as distributing free condoms.

The best way to prevent HIV infection is to practice abstinance and safe sex, Haines said.