HIV Update from the CDC
In December 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the latest HIV fact sheet. According to this report, HIV remains a serious health problem, with about 47,500 people newly infected with the virus in 2010.
The CDC also reports that certain populationsincluding African Americans, Latinos and gay and bisexual mencontinue to experience higher rates of HIV infection than the general population. In these groups, two recent trends are noted:
- A decrease of about 21 percent in new HIV infections in African American women
- A 22 percent increase in new infections in young (aged 1324) gay and bisexual men
Men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the most heavily affected group in the United States. Although this group represents only about 4 percent of the total male population, it accounts for about 78 percent of new HIV infections in men and about 63 percent of all new HIV infections.
Studies have shown the following risk factors in MSM:
- Individual high-risk (including sexual) behavior
- Lack of knowledge about HIV risk factors
- Higher prevalence of HIV in MSM, leading to a greater risk of exposure with each sexual encounter
- High percentage of MSM who do not know they are infected with the virus
- Social factors like stigma and homophobia, which may prevent MSM from seeking HIV prevention services, lack of insurance, confidentiality concerns
- High rates of certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can increase HIV transmission
The CDC reports that heterosexual men and women accounted for approximately 25 percent of new HIV infections in 2010about two-thirds of these infections occurred in womenand injection drug users accounted for about 8 percent. The largest percentage of new infections (about 31 percent) occurred in people between 25 and 31 years of age. People 1324 years old accounted for about 26 percent of new HIV infections, those aged 35 to 44 accounted for about 24 percent, 15 percent occurred in people 45 to 54, and 5 percent occurred in people over the age of 55.
Although overall incidence of HIV has been reduced by more than 66 percent in the United States since the height of the epidemic and new infections have not increased, HIV infection rates throughout the world remain too high. HIV testing, prevention and treatment programs are reducing the overall rate of transmission, but according to the CDC, it’s critical to reverse the persistent racial disparities and the increased incidence of infection in young gay and bisexual men.
A new High-Impact Prevention approach is focused on implementing effective interventions in geographical areas and populations that continue to be heavily affected by HIV and AIDS. The five main areas of focus include the following:
- Prevention program support for health departments and community organizations
- Tracking the HIV epidemic through a national surveillance program
- Supporting HIV research
- Raising awareness about HIV testing, transmission and prevention
- Supporting HIV intervention programs with federal, state and local organizations
The CDC also plans to expand its involvement of leadersespecially in the African American, Latino, gay and bisexual communities to help reduce the spread of HIV by encouraging all people to learn the facts about HIV, get tested and take measures to protect themselves and their sexual partner(s).
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)