Health Department refutes claims over revised HIV case data

By : Jamie Hyman
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The Florida Department of Health is at odds with the media regarding numbers of new HIV cases in the state.

On March 26, the Tampa Bay Times published a story noting that the Health Department quietly lowered the numbers of new HIV cases logged in 2014, from 6,147 to 4,613. The original numbers put Florida at the top of the U.S. when it comes to new HIV cases and as a result, the state surgeon general was sharply criticized for cutting staff and spending as HIV cases skyrocketed.

The revised total still shows an increase in infections, but shrinks it, and it puts Florida behind Texas and California for new cases, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The state health department fired back, publishing a piece titled “Setting the Record Straight: Tampa Bay Times Inaccurately Portrays HIV Data in Florida,” which refutes the Tampa Bay Times’ claims. The statement says the critical article “cherry-picked data to fit a predetermined conclusion,” and argues that the numbers revision is common and standard practice, not just in Florida, but in all states.

“Cases are never erased – they are shifted to the appropriate year of diagnosis or to the state where the individual resides,” the rebuttal reads, stating that the health department warned the Tampa Bay Times that the data the monthly reports should not be used to analyze trends. “HIV data should be viewed as living data and is constantly being updated.”

The Tampa Bay Times article refutes this, quoting an outside HIV expert who says there shouldn’t be that many differences, and claiming that the revision is the most dramatic of any data dating back to 2009.

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