The statistics about HIV infected are bewildering — mere 3 out of 10 Americans with HIV have the virus in check – and two-third of cases where HIV levels are uncontrolled come about in people who have been diagnosed with the virus but are no longer in care.
These are some of the key points the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) make in their most recent Vital Signs Report, which evaluates HIV data for 2011.
Around 1.2 million people living in US are HIV infected, and rate at which new infections are arising is around 50,000 a year – means the virus is a threat to public health and well-being.
The CDC opines that the findings clearly indicate that more must be done to ensure wider testing of HIV and that positively diagnosed people stay in care, receive the treatment they need and the information and tools to help them prevent spreading the virus to others.
A prescribed antiretroviral medication regime needs to be followed consistently to keep HIV controlled at very low levels, to enable infected people lead longer, healthier lives.
Key to controlling HIV epidemic is ‘accessing and staying in care’
As per research treatment shrinks sexual transmission of HIV by as much as 96%, and US guidelines advice treatment for all people diagnosed with HIV, regardless of their viral load.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden opines the only way to bridle America’s HIV epidemic is helping people with HIV access and stay in care and treatment so they can restrain the virus, live longer and help protect others.
“For people living with HIV, it’s not just about knowing you’re infected,” he urges, “it’s also about going to the doctor for medical care. And for health care facilities, it’s not just about the patients in your care – it’s every person diagnosed, and every person whose diagnosis has not yet been made.”
HIV testing needs to reach more young people
The report also indicates that younger people are less likely than older people to have their virus levels under control. The researchers argue that under half (49%) of 18-24-year-olds with HIV have been diagnosed, therefore that calls for more testing in this group.
The CDC believes that closing that gap could help curb HIV. Meanwhile, a recent international study led by the University of Kentucky has found an HIV drug that may also treat macular degeneration, a major cause of vision loss among the elderly.