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CDC Report: Only 30% of Americans With HIV Have Virus in Check

Fewer than half of HIV-positive young adults know they are infected

Just 30% of Americans with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection had the virus under control in 2011, and approximately two-thirds of those whose virus was out of control had been diagnosed but were no longer receiving care, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new findings underscore 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, according to the agency.

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

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

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

The percentage of Americans with HIV who achieved viral suppression remained fairly stable from 2009 to 2011(26% and 30%, respectively).

The new study also found that viral suppression increased with age, with young people significantly less likely than older age groups to have their virus under control. Only 13% of people aged 18 to 24 years were virally suppressed compared with 23% of those aged 25 to 34 years; 27% of those aged 35 to 44 years; 34% of those aged 45 to 54 years; 36% of those aged 55 to 64 years; and 37% among those aged 65 years and older. The researchers attribute this disparity largely to the fact that fewer than half (49%) of individuals aged 18 to 24 years with HIV infection have been diagnosed, underscoring the need for more HIV testing in this population.

“It’s alarming that fewer than half of HIV-positive young adults know they are infected,” said Eugene McCray, MD, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “Closing that gap could have a huge impact on controlling HIV. Knowing your status is the first critical step toward taking care of your own health and avoiding transmission to others.”

The study did not find statistically significant differences in viral suppression by race or ethnicity, sex, or risk group.

Source: CDC; November 25, 2014.


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