Progress on HIV diagnosis, treatment has slowed, CDC says

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HIV testing, treatment and prevention efforts must improve in order to achieve the U.S. goal of reducing the new infection rate by 90 percent in the next 10 years, according to a CDC Vital Signs report published Dec. 3. 

Researchers analyzed 2013-17 HIV surveillance data and preexposure prophylaxis surveillance, pharmacy and other data to estimate annual infection rates, percentage affected and PrEP coverage.  

The analysis estimated about 38,000 new HIV infections occur every year, with 1.2 million total U.S. cases in 2017. Only 86 percent of Americans with HIV knew they had the virus, 9 percent less than the 95 percent goal. In 2017, about 154,000 people were unaware of their HIV status and therefore couldn't receive treatment to control the virus and prevent transmission. People ages 13 to 24 were less likely to know of their HIV status than individuals older than 25.

Of those with an HIV diagnosis, only 63 percent controlled the virus with treatment. In 2018, about 18 percent of individuals who could benefit from PrEP had a prescription for it. To improve PrEP use and HIV prevention, the HHS launched a national program Dec. 3 making PrEP free for those without prescription drug coverage.

The CDC recommends healthcare providers test all patients for HIV at least once in their lifetime to decrease new infections. High-risk individuals should be tested at least once a year, and PrEP should be prescribed to all who could benefit from it, the CDC says. Health departments should expand HIV testing and train providers in how and when to prescribe PrEP. 

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