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The state of the HIV epidemic in the United States

Tuesday, 12 January 2016 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // As Prevention , Health, International , Treatment, Revolving Door, Guest Authors

Following years of apparent stagnation in the U.S. fight against HIV, recent reports suggest that things are looking up. What’s the full story?

The state of the HIV epidemic in the United States

The full text of this article by Benjamin Ryan firrst appeared on here

This summer will mark 35 years since the first reports of AIDS. Additionally, two decades have now passed since combination antiretroviral treatment began to transform a health crisis into a more manageable public health concern. 

Anniversaries are time to take stock: to reflect on the lessons of the past, assess the status quo and make projections for the future. For many years now, the American HIV epidemic has appeared trapped in a protracted stagnation, paralyzed by the systemic flaws of the U.S. health care system, fueled by increases in sexual risk-taking among men who have sex with men (MSM) while new infections drop among other risk groups, and stymied by increased public apathy. 

Recent reports, however, have given new reason for hope. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing a 19 percent drop in HIV diagnoses over the past decade, as testing rates remained stable or rose among groups that saw a decline in diagnoses. The finer details of that report, as well as news of successes in the realms of prevention and treatment in major cities such as New York and San Francisco, suggest that the American HIV epidemic is finally charting a new course. 

The state of the epidemic is improving. It is not really one epidemic, however, but a loose collection of smaller epidemics among various risk groups, including MSM and in particular black MSM, injection drug users (IDUs), and women of color. The epidemic also follows vastly different patterns in different metropolitan areas. So looking only at the big picture and not these finer details yields a particularly inadequate picture of HIV’s present condition. 

The promising news is that, between 2005 and 2014, HIV diagnoses fell 40 percent among women, including 42 percent among black women. The diagnosis rate also dropped 35 percent in heterosexuals and 63 percent among injection drug users (IDUs). 

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