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How many cases of HIV in the USA?

Jul 3, 1998

simple question: as aids maybe highest in hetrosexuals worldwide, why was it that u.s. homosexuals, and iv drug users accounted for almost 80 percent of all of the 561,00 cases across the u.s. 1981-1995? also can you give me a rough estimate on how many cases of hiv are thought to be in the u.s. it seems as if only 561.000 cases have occured in the last seventeen years, with 259,000,000 americans the chances of randomly getting aids would be equivalent to winning the lottery. thanks.....

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. Worldwide, most of the people infected with HIV are heterosexual. In Africa, where the disease is believed to have begun in the late 1940s or early 1950s, this infection began (and continues to be) among the heterosexual population. However, when HIV first came to the United States in the late 1970s, the epidemic started primarily among Gay/Bisexual men and Injecting Drug Users (IDUs). Hemophiliacs and people receiving blood transfusions were also at significant risk of infection in the early years of the epidemic (before blood screening began). Because many Gay/Bisexual men were having multiple sexual partners, and many IDUs were having multiple needle-sharing partners, the virus quickly spread among these populations of people. As time has progressed, the virus has gradually spread to the overall population. However Gay/Bisexual men and IDUs continue to have a disproportionate number of cases as compared to the overall population.

Because we currently do not have nationwide HIV reporting, we can only estimate how many people in the USA are infected with the virus. It has been estimated that between 650,000 and 900,000 Americans are infected with HIV. Assuming that up to 900,000 Americans are infected, and assuming the US population is now approximately 270 million, this means that roughly 1 out of every 300 Americans are infected with the virus. Remember, these are only estimates, and may not accurately reflect the true scope of the epidemic in the USA.

It is important to remember that statistics such as this CANNOT be used to determine individual risk! Some people put themselves at higher risk of infection than others. Some people have more sexual (or needle-sharing) partners than others. And some states have higher rates of infection than others. Statistics cannot be used to tell you your personal risk of infection. Your personal risk is determined by your personal behaviors, number of sexual/needle-sharing partners, etc. etc.

For more information on HIV and AIDS statistics in the USA, please read the posting, Is the AIDS epidemic declining?.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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Is the AIDS epidemic declining?

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