The Good, the Bad and the Trends in the latest CDC estimates can be broken down as follows:
The Good—the latest CDC estimates, based on its national HIV incidence surveillance, show a plateaued number of new HIV infections at approximately 50,000 new infections per year between 2006 and 2009. [There are still over one million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.]
The Bad—the CDC estimates also show that, during the same period of time (2006-2009), the only increase in new HIV infections was found among young men who have sex with men (MSM), in particular among young African American MSM. Online, the CDC report calls this particular estimate “alarming.”
The Trends: there are actually two trends developing simultaneously. First trend is the leveled-off number of new HIV infections in the United States. The second trend is the very increase in the new HIV infections among young MSM, in particular among young African American MSM.
To take it one by one…
Yes, the number of new HIV infections in America has plateaued, but, as Kevin Fenton, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, mentions online, they have plateaud “at an unacceptably high level.”
The alarming part is the steep increase in new HIV infections among MSM. While this group represents only two percent of the total population, it accounted for 61 percent (29,300) of all the new HIV infections in 2009. Young MSM (ages 13 to 29) accounted for more than a quarter of all the new HIV infections nationwide (27 percent or 12,900). In addition, CDC estimates show that new HIV infections among young African American MSM increased 48 percent between 2006 (4,400 infections) and 2009 (6,500 infections).
“We cannot allow the health of a new generation of gay men to be lost to a preventable disease,” comments online Jonathan Mermin, MD, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Mermin points out the importance of refocusing on the fight against HIV by confronting homophobia and stigma still related to the disease.
“HIV remains one of the most glaring health disparities in this country,” Dr. Fenton says in an online report. HIV/AIDS affects in particular communities of color:
African Americans represent 14 percent of the total U.S. population and, in 2009, accounted for 44 percent of the new HIV infections. In the same year, the HIV infections among African Americans were eight times as high as among whites; among African American women, 15 times as high as among white women.
Hispanics represent 16 percent of the total U.S. population and, in 2009, accounted for 20 percent of the new HIV infections. In the same year, the HIV infections among Hispanics was three times as high as among whites; among Hispanic women, more than four times as high as among white women.
To reduce the number of new HIV infections, in July 2010, White House officials started the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which seeks to reduce HIV infections in the U.S. and to bring to the forefront HIV preventions programs especially in the communities most affected by the virus. To accomplish this, CDC has started a new “High-Impact Prevention” approach to HIV prevention activities, based on their “effectiveness, cost, coverage, feasibility and scalability [for] the greatest possible impact with available resources.”
"HIV/AIDS Updates: The Good, the Bad and the Trend(s) in the Latest CDC-released Numbers" article by Alina Oswald was also published in the October issue of Out IN Jersey Magazine.