With all the buzz that PrEP has been receiving lately and the recent recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1st, some data out of the CDC regarding the fight against HIV and AIDS received surprisingly little press.
On December 6th, the CDC announced that between 2005 and 2014, annual HIV diagnoses in the United States fell by 19%. The change was driven by huge declines among several populations including heterosexuals, injection drug users and African Americans – in particular black women. Overall, heterosexuals experienced a 35% decrease in HIV infections, while injection drug users saw a 63% decrease in new diagnoses. HIV diagnoses among black women fell by a whopping 42% between 2005 and 2014, and the rate of new infections continues to decline. Overall, Southern states continue to bear the worst of HIV/AIDS epidemic, with death rates from the disease nearly three times higher in some states than the national average.
The results were not as promising for men who have sex with men. Overall diagnoses among gay and bisexual men increased by 6% over the decade, although rates have stabilized in more recent years. The change in diagnosis rate was also not equivalent among all racial and ethnic groups. While white gay and bisexual men saw a decline by 18%, Latinos and African Americans saw increases of 24 and 22% respectively. But there is some cause for hope for gay and bisexual men in the black community – between 2010 and 2014, new diagnoses of HIV have leveled off, bucking the trend of the prior years. Even more critical, the rate among young black gay and bisexual men between the ages of 13-24 actually declined by 2% from 2010 to 2014.
Although the slowing of the HIV epidemic among black gay and bisexual men is encouraging, they continue to face a disproportionately high HIV burden. Additionally, new efforts are necessary to reverse the increases among Latino men.
HIV testing remained stable or increased among all groups during the last decade. Nationally, 87 percent of Americans knew their HIV status in 2012, but the percentage varied across states – from a low of 77% in Louisiana to a high of 93% in New York and Hawaii. Last year, HIV was diagnosed in about 27,000 gay and bisexual men, 10,000 heterosexuals and 2,000 injection drug users.