HIV diagnosis rates have fallen in recent years, according to a study released July 19 by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions National HIV Surveillance System, the study found that 16 out of every 100,000 people ages 13 and older were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2011, a decrease from 24 out of 100,000 people in 2002.
Nationally, the annual HIV diagnosis rate decreased more than 30% in the past 10 years, the study stated. But although diagnosis rates decreased among people infected through IV drug use or heterosexual contact, diagnosis rates remained stable among presumed gay men. At the same time, diagnosis rates attributed to male-to-male contact increased among men 13 to 24 years old.
Declines were observed in several key populations; however, increases were found among certain age groups of men who have sex with men, especially young men, the researchers wrote. Because of delays in diagnosis, temporal trends in diagnosis and variations among groups may reflect earlier changes in HIV incidence.
Unprotected sex is among the behaviors researchers attribute to the increase, the study said. Among men who have sex with men, unprotected risk behaviors in the presence of high prevalence and unsuppressed viral load may continue to drive HIV transmission, the researchers wrote. Disparities in rates of HIV among men who have sex with men present prevention challenges and warrant expanded efforts.
HIV remains a major global public health issue, claiming more than 39 million lives so far, according to the World Health Organization. At the end of 2013, about 35 million people were living with HIV, with 2.1 million people becoming newly infected globally that year.
Data used in the JAMA study were collected through health departments in 50 states. Researchers noted testing patterns could have an impact on the results. This study is limited in that trends in diagnoses can be influenced by changes in testing patterns, the researchers wrote. The HIV testing services were expanded during the analysis period and early outcomes of testing initiatives often indicate increases in diagnoses until some level of testing saturation occurs. Our study found overall decreases in annual diagnosis rates despite the implementation of testing initiatives during the period of analysis.
For more information, visit http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1889120.