July 7, 2010
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works with other federal agencies, state and local health departments, national organizations, community-based organizations, the private sector, and advocates to reduce the spread of HIV in the U.S. This work encompasses many components, such as:
Behavioral interventions, which have proven effective in reducing the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV. Ensuring people have the information, motivation, and skills necessary to reduce their risk continues to be important.
HIV testing, which is critical in preventing the spread of HIV. Most people change behaviors to protect their partners if they know they are infected with HIV.
Linkage to treatment and care, which enables individuals with HIV to live longer, healthier lives and reduce their risk of transmitting HIV. It is imperative that individuals with HIV know their HIV status and are linked to ongoing care and prevention services.
Data about transmission rates, incidence, testing behaviors, and linkages to care all contribute to provide the fullest possible picture about progress in the U.S. battle against HIV.
HIV prevention saves lives and money. It is estimated that prevention efforts have averted more than 350,000 HIV infections in the United States (a conservative estimate for the period 1991-2006), as well as more than $125 billion in medical costs. For every HIV infection that is prevented, an estimated $355,000 is saved in the cost of providing lifetime HIV treatment -- significant cost-savings for the U.S. federal government that spent an estimated $12.3 billion on HIV care and treatment in 2009, and for the U.S. health care system as a whole.
These successes reflect remarkable efforts by people with HIV, communities at risk, health departments, and other CDC partners. However, CDC recognizes there is much work to be done. There are still over 56,000 new HIV infections occurring annually in the U.S. Further, certain populations continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV -- gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and injection drug users -- and one HIV infection is estimated to occur every nine and a half minutes in the U.S. Only when all Americans are working together, making tough choices, and scaling efforts to match the scope of the epidemic, will the United States successfully turn the tide of HIV infections.
"As a nation, it is time to determine the direction we will take in fighting this serious -- yet preventable -- disease. One direction leads to complacency and the injustice of an HIV epidemic that affects the most vulnerable of Americans. The other turns toward a re-energized, science-driven effort to reduce the spread of HIV. Public health and our national conscience require we make the right choice."
Dr. Jonathan Mermin