WebMD Health News
Laura J. Martin, MD
June 2, 2011 -- The number of people living with HIV continues to rise. That’s mainly because of highly effective drugs that allow people infected with HIV to live longer, healthier lives, the CDC says.
But another reason is that prevention efforts and educational programs have helped reduce infections, CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, says in a news release. That news release, dated June 2, 2011, marks 30 years since the first report of the illness that came to be known as AIDS was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
The CDC says in its MMWR dated June 3 that highly active antiretroviral therapy is effective and that the death rate of people infected with HIV has declined dramatically over the past two decades.
But the AIDS crisis is not over, and Frieden says more resolve is needed to end this epidemic.
The new report says that every year about 50,000 U.S. residents are infected with HIV. Half of the newly infected are men who have sex with men. And nearly half are African-American.
In the latest MMWR, CDC researchers say 1.17 million people in the United States are living with the virus and about 20% do not know they are infected.
Among key findings:
According to the CDC, at the end of 2008, 75% of people living with HIV were men, and 65.7% of them were men who have sex with men.
HIV prevalence rates among African-Americans were about eight times that of whites. HIV prevalence rates for Hispanics or Latinos were about 2.5 times that of whites.
Among other key findings:
Testing can now detect HIV as early as nine days after infection.
Highly active antiretroviral therapy has been effective in allowing people to live longer with HIV.
However, late diagnosis is all too common. In 2008, the CDC says 33% of newly diagnosed HIV cases developed AIDS within a year. These people were likely infected with HIV 10 years prior to the diagnosis, on average. During this time period, they missed opportunities for medical care.
Frieden says in the news release that far too many Americans still underestimate their risk of infection or think HIV is no longer a serious health threat. But he says it is imperative that Americans understand that HIV is incurable and that most infections today are occurring among people under 30, a generation “that has never known a time without effective HIV treatments and who may not fully understand the significant health threat HIV poses.”
He says that advances in HIV prevention hold promise for reducing new infection.
SOURCES:Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 3, 2011; vol 60.News release, CDC.
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