HIV in the United States
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is decreasing in the United States. HIV is a virus that attacks a person’s immune system making it hard to overcome illnesses, even illnesses from which would typically be easy to recover.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, nearly 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV but the number of new HIV diagnoses has decreased by 19 percent from 2005 to 2014. There is no cure for HIV but the decrease in new HIV contractions could be because of the strong prevention efforts that have been made over the past decade. The CDC estimates that “prevention has already averted more than 350,000 HIV infections.” Some prevention efforts include interventions targeted at specific populations and geographic areas. With there being no cure, the only way to stop the infection is to stop it from being contracted.
“All interventions are not effective, and all effective interventions are not equal. Limited resources demand choices. Targeted pre-exposure prophylaxis and syringe distribution are cost-effective and cost-saving…The biggest impact will come from getting [people living with HIV] diagnosed and into care,” Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, said to aidsmap.com.
Although there is a hopeful decrease, there is an inconsistency with the demographics that are contracting the disease. While almost every other demographic decreased, gay and bisexual men increased in the contraction of HIV. “Gay and bisexual men, particularly young African American gay and bisexual men, are most affected,” aids.gov said. This group actually increased by six percent according to aidsmap.com. According to aids.gov, gay and bisexual men made up 67 percent of all diagnoses in 2015. Heterosexual people made up 24 percent of HIV contractions. Injecting drugs using needles has also been a source for the spread of HIV. People who inject drugs account for 6 percent of all diagnoses according to aids.gov.
Another imbalance is the uneven distribution of HIV geographically. According to aids.gov, the largest amount of people infected with HIV are from the South. The South also tends to be behind the other US regions in acts of prevention and care, showing that the strong prevention efforts could be working. The population rates per 100,000 people in the south were 16.8 compared to the Midwest, the least infected region, with rates at 7.6 according to cdc.gov.
In order to continue to decrease the spread of HIV, people must be tested in order to know they carry the infection and have the potential to spread it. “At the end of 2013, the most recent year for which such data are available, an estimated 1,242,000 adults and adolescents were living with HIV,” cdc.gov said. According to aids.gov, that one in eight of these people did not know they were living with the infection. This was most common among young people.
Although there is a lot of progress to be made, it was found that within the decrease from 2005 to 2014, diagnoses among all women decreased 40 percent and they decreased by 42 percent for African American women, according to aids.gov. As for all heterosexuals, diagnoses went down by 35 percent. For drug users injecting by needle, diagnoses decreased 63 percent, according to aids.gov.
According to aidsmap.com, “Eugene McCray, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention suggested that it is unlikely that the declines and stabilizations are due to any specific single intervention but is more likely attributable to a combination of prevention efforts including getting more people living with HIV into care and on treatment, which both improves their own health and reduces transmission to others.”
CDC.gov states that prevention and care will continue to be important, especially among certain demographics and geographical areas in order to continue the decrease in new HIV infections.
Eugene McCray, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS, Prevention
Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
Aidsmap.com, “New HIV cases decline in US, but population and geographic disparities persist”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.gov “High-Impact HIV Prevention: CDC’s Approach to Reducing HIV Infections in the United States”
CDC.gov, “HIV in the United States: At A Glance”
Aids.gov, “HIV in the Unites States: At a Glance”