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New HIV infections fall in the US, but demographic and geographic disparities persist
Liz Highleyman, 2017-02-16 10:40:00

The number of annual new HIV infections in the US fell by 18% overall since 2008, offering evidence that prevention and treatment efforts are having an impact, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Tuesday to coincidence with presentations at the 2017 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle. A closer look at the data, however, shows some notable differences across demographic groups and geographic regions.

"The nation’s new high-impact approach to HIV prevention is working," Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, stated in a CDC press release. "These data reflect the success of collective prevention and treatment efforts at national, state, and local levels. We must ensure the interventions that work reach those who need them most."

HIV incidence hit a peak in US in the mid-1980s, dropped dramatically as more people became aware of the epidemic and acted to prevent transmission, and plateaued at around 50,000 new infections per year since the mid-1990s. However, in recent years the CDC has begun to report declines in reported new diagnosed HIV cases and estimates of total new infections.

This week the CDC reported that the number of annual HIV infections in the US fell by 18% overall, from an estimated 45,700 in 2008 to 37,600 in 2014. This included a 36% decline among heterosexuals (from 13,400 to 8600) and a dramatic 56% drop among people who inject drugs (from 3900 to 1700).

But annual new infections remained stable among gay and bisexual men – at about 26,000 per year – as increases and decreases in different subgroups offset each other. Men who have sex with men were the only group that did not see an overall decline in yearly HIV incidence from 2008 to 2014.