Southern states continue to be disproportionately affected
In a newly released surveillance study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that recent progress on HIV has stalled and that key populations including men who have sex with men, transgender individuals, Latinx, and African Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted by inadequate access to critical prevention and treatment services. The highest rates of infection continue to occur in the South.
Compiling data from local and state health departments covering 2014 to 2018, the 2018 HIV Surveillance Report reveals that 1.2 million Americans aged 13 and older were living with HIV at the end of 2018—14% of whom had undiagnosed infections. Black Americans had the highest rates of undiagnosed infections, followed by Latinx individuals.
1.2 million Americans aged 13 and older were living with HIV at the end of 2018.From 2014 to 2018, HIV diagnoses decreased by 7% overall, but at-risk groups including transgender males and females, persons aged 25 to 34 years, and people who inject drugs (PWID) saw increased numbers of diagnoses. Rates of diagnoses of white PWID notably increased—the authors noted this trend was likely due to concentrated outbreaks for this group.
HIV diagnoses decreased among several groups, including whites, African Americans, multiracial people, and men who have sex with men overall. Among Asians, Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Natives, and persons aged 55 and over, diagnoses remained stable.
New infections have stabilized at “far too high a level.”“Declines seen in these reports suggest that national HIV prevention efforts are paying off in some populations, while overall stability and increases among other groups and geographic areas signal an urgent need to expand and improve HIV prevention and treatment in those groups who could most benefit,” the study authors reported, adding that new infections have stabilized at “far too high a level.”
There were notable changes to the surveillance reporting this year. For the first time, the report included estimates of the number of people newly infected with HIV for Puerto Rico and for the counties with high HIV incidence that are targeted by the Trump Administration’s Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) plan—which aims to reduce new infections by 75% in five years and by 90% in ten years.
While annual HIV diagnoses decreased overall from 2014 to 2018, the success of the EHE plan will be greatly impacted by efforts to address disparities faced by key populations such as transgender, black, and Latinx people—groups with lower rates of health insurance and less access to critical HIV prevention and treatment services.