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In U.S., Few With HIV Have Optimal Care

November 30, 2011

A new estimate released Tuesday by CDC finds that just 28 percent of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States are receiving optimal treatment.

The data provide a new lens for understanding how HIV/AIDS impacts Americans. By incorporating the experience of everyone infected with the virus, including people who do not know they have it and those who cannot or do not access treatment, CDC epidemiologists calculated quality of care -- something no other country has accomplished, an agency spokesperson said.

"We have substantial work ahead to fully realize the benefit of treatment in the United States," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden.

Some 20 percent of Americans with HIV are unaware they are infected, making it more likely they will transmit the virus to others. Among those receiving HIV care, about 77 percent achieve a fully suppressed viral load. Recent research finds patients on HIV treatment are unlikely to spread the infection, prompting CDC to work with physicians and health departments to get people testing HIV-positive into treatment.

Just over 75 percent of people diagnosed with HIV are linked to care within four months, but only 50 percent remain in care. The analysis did not address the high rate of patients who stop treatment.

Slightly fewer women (86 percent) than men (90 percent) are prescribed antiretroviral treatment; 92 percent of whites are prescribed ARVs, compared to 89 percent of Hispanics and 86 percent of blacks. Seventy-six percent of people ages 18-24 are put on treatment, compared with 92 percent of those 55 and older. Full viral suppression was attained by 84 percent of white patients, 79 percent of Hispanics, and 70 percent of blacks.

Also on Tuesday, CDC announced a five-year, $359 million annual funding round to states and cities hard-hit by HIV. Recipients must spend three-quarters of each grant on four specific activities; one is getting infected people into care and helping them remain there.

In addition, the agency kicked off a $2.4 million testing campaign targeting young black men who have sex with men.

"Vital Signs: HIV Prevention Through Care and Treatment -- United States," was published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2011;60(Early Release);1-6). For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/HIVtesting/index.html.

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Excerpted from:
Washington Post
11.30.2011; David Brown




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