Undiagnosed, untreated HIV patients responsible for 81% of new transmissions

Individuals who didn't know they had HIV or knew but were not receiving care accounted for 81 percent of HIV transmissions in 2016, according to CDC data released March 18.

Three takeaways:

1. Of the 1.1 million HIV-positive people living in the U.S. in 2016, 15 percent were unaware of their diagnosis. These individuals accounted for 38 percent of new transmissions. Another 23 percent knew they had HIV but were not receiving care and accounted for 43 percent of new transmissions.

2. Fifty-one percent of people with HIV were taking medication and virally suppressed in 2016. They accounted for no new transmissions.

3. CDC released the data in conjunction with the National HIV Prevention Conference, which began March 18 in Atlanta. At the conference, both HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, discussed the Trump administration's plan to cut HIV infections in the U.S. by 90 percent in 10 years. The government's HIV strategy will focus on four pillars:

  • Early HIV diagnosis
  • Rapid treatment and sustained viral suppression
  • Increased protection for people at risk for HIV
  • Heightened response to growing HIV clusters

"A goal that once seemed impossible is within reach. We can put an end to the HIV epidemic in the United States," Dr. Redfield said in a press release. "We have developed the most powerful HIV prevention and treatment tools in history. Now is the time to focus on getting these tools in the hands of the people who need them most."

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