|By the Numbers|
This year's National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7) offers us a moment to reflect on the tremendous toll HIV has taken on a generation of African-Americans in this country. It is also an opportunity to recognize the collective progress we've achieved in the African-American community: new diagnoses among African-Americans dropped by 14 percent from 2010 to 2014.
We must continue to build upon these successes to further reduce the impact of HIV on African-American communities.
For people living with HIV, getting diagnosed and starting treatment early is an essential first step toward long-term health. Newly released CDC data show that in 2014, one in five African Americans had progressed to AIDS by the time their infection was diagnosed. The same analysis also shows that once diagnosed, less than half of African Americans with HIV have achieved viral suppression through care and treatment -- that is, the virus is under control and at a level that dramatically reduces the risk of transmission.
While it is clear improvements are needed, evidence suggests that efforts are paying off in many ways. A second CDC analysis shows that the large disparity in HIV diagnoses between African American women and women of other race/ethnicities is shrinking. The findings show that the difference in HIV diagnosis rates between African American women and white women (the group with the lowest rates) decreased by almost 25 percent from 2010 to 2014. There have also been substantial declines in recent years in diagnoses among African-Americans overall. And after years of increases, we are now seeing diagnoses among African-American gay and bisexual men level off.
We have more tools today to build on this momentum and to continue advancing in the fight against HIV. For those living with HIV, an HIV test is the gateway to effective treatment that improves health and reduces the risk of transmission. Advances in HIV testing and treatment offer greater opportunities to identify people living with HIV sooner and to link them to care earlier. Increases in HIV testing in both health care and non-health care settings can improve the proportion of African Americans with HIV who know their status and who are receiving care. And new biomedical interventions, like PrEP, are also playing a key role in HIV prevention when combined with other proven strategies.
CDC will continue working with the African American community, prevention partners, and providers to find solutions to close the gaps in HIV prevention and care.
On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, join me as we forge a path to a future free of HIV -- know your status, your risk, and how you can prevent HIV.
Eugene McCray, M.D., is the director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.