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HIV Testing, Treatment Not Reaching Many Americans
  • Robert Preidt
  • Posted December 3, 2019

HIV Testing, Treatment Not Reaching Many Americans

Too few Americans are getting tested or treated for HIV, a new government report shows.

"The time is now to end HIV in America. We have the right tools, the right data and the right leadership to get this done," said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Those living with HIV are our best teachers. They are key to helping us reach people where they are so that we can better diagnose and link patients to care," he added in an agency news release.

The CDC Vital Signs report, released Tuesday, found that in 2017 about 154,000 people with HIV did not know they had the AIDS-causing virus and didn't receive HIV treatment to stay healthy, control the virus and avoid transmitting HIV to others. Young people aged 13 to 24 were less likely to know their HIV status than those 25 and older.

Only two-thirds (63%) of people who knew they had HIV had the virus under control through effective treatment. Young people and black Americans were least likely to have the virus under control, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.

In 2018, only 18% of the 1.2 million people who could benefit from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) -- a daily pill that prevents HIV -- had received a prescription for the medication. Rates were especially low among young people, black Americans and Hispanics.

The CDC noted that the report included data from 92% of all prescriptions from U.S. retail pharmacies, but did not include prescriptions from closed health care systems, such as managed care organizations and military health plans. Therefore, PrEP coverage was likely higher than the estimates in the report.

Overall, the report shows that progress in reducing new HIV infections in the United States has stalled in recent years, according to the CDC.

New HIV infections remained relatively stable, at about 38,000 per year, from 2013 to 2017, the findings showed.

The CDC researchers said that health disparities need to be corrected to achieve the goals of the federal government's proposed initiative, Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, which aims to cut new HIV infections by 90% by 2030.

More information

HIV.gov has more on HIV/AIDS.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Dec. 3, 2019
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