(RxWiki News) HIV has been a national concern for years, but new data suggest that serious progress has been made.
A new study examined national trends in rates of new HIV diagnoses in the US between 2002 and 2011.
The study found that the overall annual rate of HIV diagnoses dropped significantly during the period studied, though decreases were not seen in every demographic.
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This study was conducted by Anna Satcher Johnson, MPH, of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues.
The researchers set out to examine long-term national trends in the diagnoses of HIV. To do so, they used data from the CDC's National HIV Surveillance System for the years 2002 through 2011. This provided information on HIV infections diagnosed in people aged 13 or older.
Satcher Johnson and team found that, between 2002 and 2011, a total of 493,371 people in the US were diagnosed with HIV (human immune deficiency virus). As time went on, the overall rate of new diagnoses decreased.
HIV is a virus that weakens the body's ability to fight disease and can lead to AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
In 2002, the annual rate of HIV diagnoses was 24.1 diagnoses per 100,00 people, and, by 2011, the rate was 16.1 diagnoses per 100,000 people — a drop of 33.2 percent, the researchers reported.
The researchers found that most individual groups also saw declines in the rate of HIV diagnoses, including women and people between the ages of 35 and 44.
The authors of this study also analyzed information on how the patients became infected with HIV. The annual rate of HIV diagnoses tied to injection drugs or heterosexual contact dropped during the study period. However, this was not true for infections from male-to-male sexual contact.
HIV infections related to male-to-male sexual contact stayed stable between 2002 and 2011, with rates increasing among certain age groups and decreasing among others, the study authors reported. Rates of males who became infected with HIV in this manner increased among men between the ages of 13 and 24, 45 and 54, and 55 or older but decreased among men between 34 and 44.
This study was limited by the fact that HIV testing patterns changed during the period studied, which could have influenced trends in diagnoses, the researchers reported.
The researchers also noted that further emphasis should be placed on HIV testing and prevention efforts.
The study was published online July 19 in JAMA. Funding for the HIV surveillance data the researchers used was provided by the CDC.