amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

CDC Says Only a Quarter of Americans with HIV Have the Virus “Under Control”

December 1, 2011—A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released Tuesday in advance of World AIDS day, estimates that nearly three out of four of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV do not have the virus “under control.” This sobering statistic is attributed to the fact that one in five HIV-positive Americans are not aware they are infected, and among those who are aware, only half are receiving ongoing medical care and treatment. 

Men who have sex with men (MSM), the population most severely affected by HIV in the United States, are least likely to know they are infected and less likely to receive prevention counseling (39 percent, compared with 50 percent of men who have sex with women and women who have sex with men).

“Closing the gaps in testing, access to care, and treatment will all be essential to slowing the U.S. HIV epidemic,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “HIV testing is the most important first step toward breaking the cycle of transmission. Combined with effective prevention services, linkage to care and ongoing effective treatment, testing provides a gateway to the most effective prevention tools at our disposal.”

To help close the gap in one of the most severely affected American communities, the CDC is running a new campaign—called Testing Makes Us Stronger—which encourages black gay and bisexual men to get tested for HIV.

“Testing Makes Us Stronger was designed by black gay men for black gay men and strives to communicate the power of knowing your HIV status as a first step toward staying healthy,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention.

Research shows that black gay and bisexual men do not engage in riskier behaviors than other gay men, but are at higher risk for HIV due to the high prevalence of HIV that already exists in many black and gay communities, increasing the likelihood of becoming infected with each sexual encounter.

“We must do better at reaching people with the care they need,” said Chris Collins, amfAR’s vice president and director of public policy. “CDC’s announcement shows that of those enrolled in care, success rates for controlling the virus are high. The challenge now is to reach more people with HIV testing, linkages to care, and adherence support to get more people lifesaving health services.”

To read the complete report, click here