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HIV rates decline in US but challenges remain

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Results of a new study show HIV rates have declined in the US. According to the report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), from 2002 to 2011 there was a 30 percent decline in diagnosis of HIV nationwide. Despite the decrease in diagnosis, challenges still remain.

Trends in HIV

The study authors looked at trends in HIV during the time period among persons age 13 and older, finding 493,372 persons were diagnosed with HIV in the US.

The results came from data that is part of the National HIV Surveillance System of the CDC.

The biggest decline in HIV was found among women, people age 35-44 and persons of multiple races the study authors said.

The researchers said HIV diagnosis continues to increase among men who have sex with other men - especially young men age 13 to 24. HIV increased 132.5 percent among younger men.

Anna Satcher Johnson, M.P.H., of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, and colleagues conducted the study that showed HIV diagnosis decreased by 33.2 percent from 2002-2011. A decline was seen among HIV among heterosexuals and drug users as well as among males 35-44 years of age.

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Earlier diagnosis and antiretroviral therapy (ARV) has led to fewer cases of AIDS according to a 2013 report published in the journal HIV Medicine.

From 1988–1995 - before ARV - 78 percent of people died from AIDS. The rate of deaths from AIDS dropped to 15 percent from 2005 to 2010.

A March 2013 study also show HIV infected individuals who are treated optimally are at no higher risk of dying than the general population.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports there are currently 35.3 million people living with HIV worldwide. In 2012 there were 1.6 million AIDS related deaths.


One of the challenges of the study's accuracy is that HIV testing has become more widespread.

"The HIV testing services were expanded during the analysis period and early outcomes of testing initiatives often indicate increases in diagnoses until some level of testing saturation occurs. Our study found overall decreases in annual diagnosis rates despite the implementation of testing initiatives during the period of analysis," the authors wrote.

Young men that continue to have sex with other men could result in ongoing HIV transmission the authors concluded, posing challenges that call for expanded efforts toward prevention. The overall rate of HIV across the nation declined 30 percent in slightly more than a decade, based on the study finding.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons