The number of people living with HIV infection in the United States is higher than ever before. Nearly 1.1 million people were estimated to be living with HIV infection in the United States at the end of 2009, the most recent year with national prevalence estimates. One in five are unaware of their infection. (1).
What Is Being Done
Despite the increase in the number of people living with HIV infection, the annual number of new infections has remained relatively stable (1). Recent data suggests that HIV prevention efforts are working:
Lower transmission rate. The majority of people infected with HIV do not transmit the virus to others. CDC estimates that there were 5 transmissions per 100 persons living with HIV infection in the United States in 2006 (2), meaning that 95% of those infected did not transmit HIV, an 89% decline in the estimated rate of transmission since the peak of the epidemic in the mid-1980s (1). This decline is likely due to prevention efforts and availability of improved testing and treatment (1).
More know of their HIV infection. The estimated proportion of persons in the United States with HIV who know they are infected increased from 75% in 2003 to 82% in 2009 (1). This is a sign of progress for HIV prevention because research shows that most individuals reduce behaviors that could transmit HIV when they learn they are infected (3).
Despite successes, there are still concerns:
Significant cause of death. More than half a million people with an AIDS diagnosis in the United States died from the beginning of the epidemic through 2007, the most recent year that death statistics are available (4).
Late diagnoses. Too many persons continue to be diagnosed with HIV late in the course of their infection and miss opportunities for treatment and prevention. In 2008, one-third (32%) of individuals with an HIV diagnosis reported to the CDC received a diagnosis of AIDS within 12 months of their initial HIV diagnosis (4).
Disproportionate impact on certain populations and geographic locations. Men who have sex with men (MSM), blacks/African Americans, and Hispanic/Latinos are the groups most affected by HIV infection. Geographically, urban areas are the most heavily impacted.
- MSM represent 2% of the population; however, their HIV diagnosis rate is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women (7). MSM account for more than half of all new infections in the United States each year (5).
- Blacks/African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV. They represent about 14% of the population but but accounted for 44% of new HIV infections in 2009. (6). Over the course of their life, 1 in 16 black/African American men will receive a diagnosis of HIV, as will 1 in 30 black women (7). HIV infection rates are higher among black MSM compared to other MSM. More new HIV infections occurred among young black MSM (aged 13–29) than among any other age and racial group of MSM (6).
- Hispanics/Latinos represent 16% of the population (8) but account for an estimated 20% of new HIV infections in 2009 (6).
- Women of color continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV infection. The rate of new HIV infection for black/African American women is nearly 15 times the rate for white women. The rate of new HIV infection among Hispanic/Latina women is over four times that of white women (6).
- Specific locations are more affected, although HIV and AIDS have had a severe impact on all regions of the country. AIDS remains mainly an urban disease, with most individuals diagnosed in 2009 living in cities with more than 500,000 people. Areas hardest hit based on ranking of AIDS cases include Miami and Jacksonville, Florida; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; New York City, New York; and Washington, D.C.
Learn More About Populations Affected By HIV:
Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM): CDC
Blacks/African Americans: CDC | NPIN
Hispanics/Latinos: CDC | NPIN
Women: CDC | NPIN
What Is Being Done
Preventionboth biomedical and behavioralis the best hope for reducing HIV infection. The Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP), part of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, coordinates CDC’s HIV prevention efforts through national leadership on policy development, research, and support of effective prevention services. Visit NPIN’s Prevention Today page to learn more about CDC’s prevention strategy, and check out our Education and Outreach section for more information on HIV prevention programs that work.
Learn more about DHAP's HIV initiatives.
1 CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data—United States and 6 U.S. dependent areas—2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report2012;17(No. 3, part A). http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/reports/. Published June 2012.
2 Holtgrave DR, Hall HI, Rhodes PH, Wolitski R. Updated annual HIV transmission rates in the United States, 1977-2006. J Aquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2009;50(2):236-8.
3 Marks G, Crepaz N, Senterfitt JW, Janssen RS. Meta-analysis of high-risk sexual behavior in persons aware and unaware they are infected with HIV in the United States: Implications for HIV prevention programs. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2005;39(4):446-53.
4 CDC. HIV Surveillance Report, 2009. Vol 21. Accessed July 29, 2011.
5 Purcell DW, Johnson C, Lansky A, Prejean J, Stein R, Denning P, et al. Calculating HIV and syphilis rates for risk groups: Estimating the national population size of men who have sex with men (abstract). Presented at 2010 National STD Prevention Conference; 2010 Mar 10; Atlanta, GA. (cited 2010 Sep 21). Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/msm/resources/research/msm.htm.
6 Prejean J, Song R, Hernandez A, Ziebell R, Green T, et al. (2011) Estimated HIV Incidence in the United States, 2006-2009. PLoS ONE 6(8): e17502.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017502.
7 CDC. Estimated Lifetime Risk for Diagnosis of HIV Infection Among Hispanics/Latinos – 37 states and Puerto Rico, 2007. MMWR. 2010;59(40):1297-1301.
8 U.S. Census Bureau. USA QuickFacts. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce; 2010. (cited 2010 Sep 21). Available from: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html.
Page Last Updated: September 14, 2012