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Experts Explore CDC’s “Winnable Battles” in Infectious Disease with Contagion



The percentage of people living with HIV who know their status is steadily rising toward the 90% target due to CDC’s expansion of testing efforts, particularly focusing on communities with a high burden of infection among African Americans and Hispanics.

Treatment can help people with HIV lead longer, healthier lives while greatly reducing the possibility of transmitting the virus. Due to increased screening, an estimated 87% of about 1.2 million Americans living with HIV have been diagnosed and are aware of their infection. However, less than half of those with a diagnosed infection have their virus under control.

CDC’s recommendations on emerging testing technologies, such as antigen/antibody combination tests, are prompting earlier diagnosis and immediate linkage to care. Acknowledging the benefits of early treatment, CDC modified its linkage-to-care goal from within three months to within one month of diagnosis.

The agency and its state partners are relying more on usage of surveillance data to identify HIV-infected persons not in HIV care as part of efforts to achieve higher viral suppression rates.

“We’ve gained considerable ground in regards to declines in new diagnoses among African-American women, people who inject drugs, and heterosexuals,” said Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “And the increases once seen among gay and bisexual men have leveled off.”

About 40,000 Americans are still diagnosed with HIV every year. “We cannot claim victory until the war is won,” Dr. Mermin said.
Susan Kreimer, MS, is a medical journalist who has written articles about infectious diseases and many other health topics. For two decades, her coverage has informed consumers, physicians, nurses and health system executives. Raised in the Chicago area, she holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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