U.S. HIV cases more numerous than previously thought

The U.S. HIV epidemic is sharply worse than previously estimated, with thousands more people infected than realized, according to a new government way of calculating cases, officials said Saturday.

The new count shows the number of new HIV infections was closer to 56,300 per year than the 40,000 per year previously reported — a 41 percent increase for the 15 years up to and including 2006, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report stressed the higher numbers do not reflect an increase in HIV, only a more accurate count. It released the report at the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.

''This new picture reveals that the HIV epidemic is — and has been — worse than previously known and underscores the challenges in confronting this disease,'' said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS.

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