US HIV Incidence Higher than Estimated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that �new technology and methodology� it has developed �show that the incidence of HIV in the United States is higher than was previously known.�

CDC Announces US Incidence of HIV Much Higher than Previously Estimated, Blacks and Hispanics Account for More than 60% of New Infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that “new technology and methodology” it has developed “show that the incidence of HIV in the United States is higher than was previously known.”

The data, published in a HIV/AIDS theme issue of JAMA, show that “in 2006, an estimated 56,300 new HIV infections occurred—a number that is substantially higher than the previous estimate of 40,000 annual new infections.”

The 40% discrepancy in incidence figures can be explained, according to the CDC, in part because “Historically, researchers relied on indirect methods to estimate the number of new infections.” A decade ago, data on US AIDS diagnoses “could be used to estimate the number of new HIV infections over time, because the period from initial HIV infection to the development of AIDS was well documented… However, following the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy [about 10 years ago] the period between HIV infection and AIDS was no longer predictable, and AIDS cases could no longer be used as the primary basis for estimating HIV incidence.”

The previous estimate of 40,000 new US HIV/AIDS cases annually was derived by extrapolating infection rates from small studies of HIV infections among high-risk populations.

Minority populations disproportionately affected

According to a CDC fact sheet, the new estimates show that African American men and women have been particularly hard hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic; although African Americans make up only 13% of the US population, they accounted for 45% of the new HIV infections in 2006. CDC figures indicate that the “rate of new infections among non-Hispanic blacks was 7 times the rate among whites (83.7 versus 11.5 new infections per 100,000 population).”

The rate of new HIV infections among Hispanics in 2006 was “3 times the rate among whites (29.3 versus 11.5 per 100,000),” with Hispanics accounting for 17% of new infections.

Additional Resources and Information

CDC Heightened National Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis among African Americans

CDC is working to fight HIV among African Americans through the Heightened National Response, a “partnership of CDC, public health partners, and African American community leaders to intensify prevention efforts nationwide. The partnership is designed to build upon progress in four key areas: expanding prevention services, increasing testing, developing new interventions, and mobilizing broader community action.”

US to Redirect International AIDS Efforts to Include Domestic Cases?

According to a column in the Wall Street Journal, one of the ideas “creating buzz” at the recent the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, Mexico was the proposal to “reorient the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief begun by President George W. Bush so that its global purview includes the US. Doing so might help to heal gaps in AIDS care and prevention among American minority populations.”