HIV/AIDS rates start to “level off,” but non-white gay men still hardest hit, with Southern states lagging in all categories
The American Center for Disease Control has some good and not-so good news for the spread of HIV/AIDS around the US.
In a report released this weekend, the CDC said there’s been a 19 percent decrease in new infections from 2005-14. These decreases are connected to the lack of new infections from specific groups - heterosexuals, people who inject drugs, and African Americans. The report said the steepest decline was seen in Black woman, but the same could not be said for male minority populations who have sex with men (MSM).
While new infection numbers for Black MSMs remains the highest, the CDC said those numbers have started to “level off,” with a 2% decline from 2010-2014.
New diagnosis appear to be on the rise in Latino MSM populations, however, as they saw a 24 percent increase in the last decade.
“Although we are encouraged by the recent slowing of the epidemic among black gay and bisexual men – especially young men – they continue to face a disproportionately high HIV burden and we must address it,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “Much more must be done to reduce new infections and to reverse the increases among Latino men. There is hope that the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and other efforts are beginning to pay off, but we can’t rest until we see equal gains for all races and risk groups.”
The study attributed the lower infection rates to the availability of testing for groups which saw a decline, however groups who saw no change in testing availability, like latino MSM, could be the case of increased infections. IE – the more people get tested and have access to testing, the less likely they are to contact the disease.
“We have the tools to stop HIV right now,” Eugene McCray, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “We urgently need to accelerate access to testing, treatment, and new biomedical prevention strategies so that everyone can protect themselves and their partners.”
Sadly the issue of insufficient testing is worst in areas that need it most.
A second study released this weekend spotlighted the epidemic of HIV/AIDS and how it’s succeeding most in areas that have limited access to testing and treatment here in the south.
This report, using data from 2012, found states in the South have the highest death rate among people with diagnosed HIV infection and lowest number of infected individuals who know their HIV status.
“It is unacceptable that people with HIV living in many Southern states are more likely to die than those living in other parts of the country,” said Mermin. “Some states are making great strides toward getting people with HIV diagnosed and into care, but every state must do this if we are to reach our national goals for prevention and care.”
With a national death rate of 19.2 deaths per 1,000 people with diagnosed HIV, sates in the South have a significantly higher chance of those infected dying early from the illness. For example, Vermont lead the country with 7.9 deaths per 1,000 people while Louisiana had the highest number with 30.8 .
Virginia ranked in the second lowest group, with between 19.1 to 21.3 deaths per 1000, just above the national average.
As far as knowledge of their status, Southern states continue to lag behind their Northern counterparts.
The CDC said 70 percent of the worst-performing states on this indicator were in the South, but Virginia (97-89%) squeaked just under the national average of 90%.
Both studies were released as part of the 2015 National HIV Prevention Conference which is currently underway in Atlanta, GA.
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