Home Page


Business & Tech


Crime & Justice


Et Cetera

Related Links:

 Main Page   

Stories Statistics Links Quizzes

By Maryland Newsline staff
Friday, May 9, 2003; updated May 24, 2003

How serious is the AIDS epidemic in Maryland? Interviews with researchers, advocates, lawmakers and victims reveal some grim statistics. 

Maryland ranks third in the country in new AIDS cases, and the virus here is transmitted largely through injection drug use, rather than sex, according to the most recent state and national figures available. The primary means of AIDS transmission nationally is still sex between men, figures show.

Transmission during male on male sexual contact peaked in Maryland at 65 percent in 1986, but had dipped to 18.1 percent by 2001.

The 2001 figures from the Maryland AIDS Administration and the Centers for Disease Control also showed Maryland ranked eighth nationally in the cumulative number of AIDS cases, despite ranking 19th in state population.

Maryland had more than 24,000 cases of AIDS and HIV at the end of 2001, according to the AIDS Administration. These figures spiked up from about 7,000 in 1994.

More than half of all of Maryland’s incidences of AIDS and HIV were clustered in Baltimore, where  55 percent were infected through intravenous drug use.

These trends could partially explain why the number of women becoming infected is increasing. Forty percent of new HIV infections have occurred in women, likely because more women are having sex with men who have contacted the disease through drug use, says Maryland AIDS Administration Director Liza Solomon. 

Another possibility is more women are becoming drug users themselves, says Peter Beilenson, Baltimore City’s health commissioner.

Statistics also show:

  • The number of blacks affected by the epidemic has been on the rise since 1986. Just over half of those infected at that time were black, but in 2001 blacks accounted for more than 80 percent of AIDS cases.

  • A significant number of AIDS and HIV cases in Maryland can be found in the correctional system.  2,562 prisoners were reported to have HIV or AIDS, comprising about 11 percent of all the state's cases, according to the Maryland AIDS Administration.

But there have been successes in the battle against the virus, both in medical research and practice.

One is the drop in the infant infection rate. “One of the incredible success stories of the HIV epidemic is reducing prenatal transmission to tiny numbers,” Solomon says.

Advances in drug treatment for mothers, as well as HIV counseling and testing, have nearly eliminated the chances of HIV being passed to their children. The proportion of newborns and infants with HIV in Maryland declined from about 2 percent in 1994 to 0.6 percent in 2001, according to the Maryland AIDS Administration.

Newborns and infants have also experienced a steady decline in their proportion of AIDS cases, from 1.9 percent in 1986 to 0.2 percent in 2001, statistics show. The drops mirror a national trend.

Researchers working at the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore offer other hope. They are optimistic that they are close to seeing an HIV vaccine readied for a clinical trial on humans. 

The vaccine has been tested on rabbits in the lab.

--Fanen Chiahemen, Amanda Karr and Nikole Albowicz 

Copyright © 2003 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

Top of Page | Home Page