USA: HIV incidence declining, but not enough to reach targets

05 May 2016
Capitol Hill, USA

The number of new HIV infections in the USA has fallen by 11% between 2010 and 2015, however the rate of decline falls far short of the goals set in the 2010-2015 National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS).

The NHAS called for HIV incidence to decrease by 25% by 2015, and rates of transmission to fall by 30%. However, the rate of transmission decreased by just 17% during this period.

The statistics result from research led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Pennsylvania, published in the journal, AIDS Behavior. It is the first analysis of progress made towards the HIV incidence and transmission rates goals set in the NHAS.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and their own data, researchers calculated the net percentage change over the five years. Between 2010 and 2015 HIV infections fell from 33,218 to 37,366, or 11%. The average number of transmissions per 100 people living with HIV (transmission rate) fell from 3.16 to 2.61.

Lead author David Holtgrave, PhD, said that while the decrease in incidence and transmission rates is certainly positive, the gains only take the USA halfway to the 2015 targets.

He commented: "After the release of the first national HIV/AIDS strategy, researchers cautioned that failure to expand diagnostic, prevention and care services to necessary levels would result in underachievement on the NHAS goals for 2015. Our analysis suggests that is just what happened."

The Obama administration recently released the new NHAS 2015-2020, and in order to achieve its objectives, the authors state that a critical eye needs to be cast on the past five years to learn where improvements can be made.

In particular, authors of the NHAS state that increasing access to antiretroviral treatment is key, as well as ensuring that key affected populations, such as black/African Americans, men who have sex with men, transgender people, and those in the southern states are not left behind.

Photo credit:
Elliot P/ CC-BY