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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Kathy Castor calls for federal review on shifting Florida HIV stats



U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, is calling for a federal investigation into Florida's recently adjusted HIV statistics.

Earlier this year, state health officials revised the number of new HIV cases reported in 2014 from 6,147 to 4,613, removing about 25 percent of new infections from the books.

The state regularly adjusts its health statistics. But the most recent changes to the HIV data were significantly larger than in any changes made in recent years, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis. What's more, they came at a time when state lawmakers were pressing the health department over a reported spike in new HIV infections.

The health department's "significant amendment has prompted widespread questions over the accuracy of the HIV/AIDS numbers in Florida, especially as most local agencies report a significant increase in the number of new infections," Castor wrote Tuesday in a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. "I respectfully request a review by the Department of Health and Human Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and/or the Office of National AIDS policy to help determine accurate numbers and whether or not the state manipulated crucial HIV data."

The health department has said it changed the number to account for infections that had already been counted in other states.

But Castor said Florida "has an unfortunate history of purposely ignoring or in some cases deliberately failing in its duty to provide adequate care to its citizens." She noted the state health department had recently "screened out" thousands of kids from a program for children with profound special needs.

"Florida may have the largest increase in the rate of new HIV cases," Castor wrote. "Floridians deserve to know the public health facts."

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 2:30pm]


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