CDC Reports: Only 3 in 10 Americans with HIV Have Virus in Check

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CDC urges HIV testing and treatment to prevent new infections and save lives

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Key to controlling the nation’s HIV epidemic is helping people with HIV get connected to--and stay in --care and treatment, to suppress the virus, live longer and protect others, said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H

Just 30 percent of Americans with HIV had the virus under control in 2011, and that approximately two-thirds of those whose virus was out of control had been diagnosed but were no longer in care, according to a new Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new study underscores the importance of making sure people with HIV receive ongoing care, treatment, and other information and tools that help prevent transmission to others, as well as the need to reach more people with HIV testing. Among those whose infection was not under control, more than three times the proportion (66%) were no longer in care as had never been diagnosed (20%).

The HIV epidemic continues to threaten the health and well-being of many Americans – with more than one million people living with the disease in the U.S. and 50,000 new infections each year.

When used consistently, antiretroviral medication can keep HIV controlled at very low levels in the body (known as viral suppression), allowing people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives and reducing the likelihood they will transmit HIV to others. Treatment has been shown to reduce sexual transmission of HIV by 96 percent, and U.S. clinical guidelines now recommend that everyone diagnosed with HIV receive treatment, regardless of their CD4 cell count or viral load.

"For people living with HIV, it's not just about knowing you're infected--it's also about going to the doctor for medical care,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “And for health care facilities, it's not just about the patients in your care--it's every person diagnosed, and every person whose diagnosis has not yet been made. Key to controlling the nation's HIV epidemic is helping people with HIV get connected to--and stay in --care and treatment to suppress the virus, live longer and help protect others.”

The new study estimates that of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV in 2011, 70 percent did not have their virus under control. Among the nearly 840,000 people who had not achieved viral suppression:

  • 66 percent had been diagnosed but were not engaged in regular HIV care,
  • 20 percent did not yet know they were infected,
  • 4 percent were engaged in care but not prescribed antiretroviral treatment, and
  • 10 percent were prescribed antiretroviral treatment but did not achieve viral suppression.

Vital Signs is a report that appears each month as part of the CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators. These are cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, motor vehicle passenger safety, prescription drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, alcohol use, health care-associated infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, food safety, and viral hepatitis.

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