December 9, 2015
The HIV situation in the U.S. is a mixed bag of good and bad news. The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report provides a brief look at how well the nation is handling HIV and where we need more help.
On the bright side, the CDC estimates 87 percent of those with HIV know their status and 2005-2014 saw a diagnosis drop of 19 percent. The groups that had sharp declines in new HIV diagnosis were heterosexuals, African Americans (more so for women), and people who inject drugs.
The CDC noted that prevention advances had a major hand in these declining trends HIV:
Antiretroviral therapy: Early treatment with antiretroviral medicines not only improves the health of people with HIV but also reduces the risk of transmitting the virus by 96 percent. To maximize health and prevent transmission, the goal of treatment is to achieve viral suppression, meaning that a person’s HIV viral load – the amount of HIV in the blood –is below detectable levels.
PrEP: A series of clinical trials has shown that HIV-negative people who take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily anti-HIV pill, as directed can reduce their risk of acquiring HIV through by sexual transmission by 90 percent.
HIV diagnostics: New technologies, including antigen/antibody combination (“4th generation”) HIV tests, have made it possible to quickly and routinely diagnose acute HIV infection, the stage when people are most likely to transmit the virus.
After that, the good news tapers off. The CDC found that only “39 percent of people living with HIV in the United States are currently receiving care for their infection” and “only about 30 percent have their virus suppressed through treatment.”
Not all populations experienced the trend of fewer HIV diagnoses. Gay and bisexual men account for 70 percent of new HIV diagnoses. The young MSM (men who have sex with men) population is most at risk, specifically African American and Hispanic teens/young adults.
The CDC recognizes the “urgent need to engage gay and bisexual men early in their lives with the HIV prevention tools and information they need to reduce their risk.”
Read the full report here.
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