A Turning Point in the Epidemic
New treatments have slowed the progression from HIV to AIDS and from AIDS to death for people infected with HIV. Consequently, both AIDS cases and deaths have dropped dramatically, and an increasing number of people with HIV are living longer and healthier lives. While AIDS cases and deaths will continue to provide a valuable measure of groups for whom effective treatment is not available or has not succeeded, these data will tell us little about where and how many new infections are occurring -- information critical for addressing the increasing need for prevention and treatment services.1
To analyze recent trends, data on HIV and STD infections and risk factors has become increasingly important. CDC is working to improve surveillance systems to more effectively track emerging trends. As we enter the next era in HIV prevention, it will be critical to ensure that our systems to monitor the epidemic's path keep pace with our changing information needs. This document presents the latest data on the status of the HIV epidemic in the U.S. It is designed to do several things:
- Summarize the overall toll of the epidemic to date; based on total AIDS cases and deaths, and the estimated number of HIV infections for the nation.
- Present recent trends in the number of people diagnosed with HIV; based on integrated HIV and AIDS reporting from the 25 states that have had HIV reporting for at least 4 years.
- Analyze historical trends in AIDS incidence (through 1996) and summarize what we know about where the epidemic was headed in the U.S. before treatment advances impacted national trends.
- Discuss the implications of HIV/AIDS data and data from HIV seroprevalence studies for prevention.
In the past, CDC has primarily reported trends in the epidemic based on the estimated number of people diagnosed with AIDS each year (AIDS incidence). Until now, AIDS incidence provided a reliable picture of trends in the HIV epidemic because researchers could take into account the time between HIV infection and progression to AIDS and estimate where and how many new infections were occurring based on observed cases of disease. But with advances in treatment of HIV, AIDS incidence can no longer be used to reliably track the path of the HIV epidemic.
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