On February 18, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report—Cases of HIV Infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2007 Vol. 19.[i]
This annual report examines data on HIV/AIDS infection reported from 34 states and five dependent areas in the United States that have had confidential name-based HIV infection reporting since 2003 or before. The data tracks HIV/AIDS by age group, race and ethnicity, behavioral categories, and location to provide one of the most comprehensive views of the status of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.
The report indicates that in 2007 there were an estimated 56,300 new cases of HIV infection in the United States. This number is higher than previous CDC estimates. Between 2004 and 2007 there was a 15 percent increase of newly diagnosed HIV cases. Also, the CDC revealed that there have been an estimated one million HIV infections since the beginning of the epidemic. While these numbers are staggering, this increase may be at least in part attributed to an increase in testing and changes in states reporting laws.
“The newly released statistics should really rattle people to their senses,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). “When our goal is zero new infections, 56,000 is completely unacceptable. At the same time, it is mind boggling to learn that there have been one million infections in this country since the start of the epidemic. One thing we know is that we can’t let the next 25 years look like the last 25 years.”
The report is broken down is by geography, supplying regional, state, and local incidence rates. The CDC reported that six states alone, California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Texas, accounted for 51 percent of the cumulative cases of HIV infections in the United States. The CDC also reported that of those living with AIDS, 40 percent lived in the South, 29 percent in the Northeast, 20 percent in the West, and 11 percent resided in the Midwest. Lastly, metropolitan areas had a higher rate of AIDS incidence, with Washington DC having the highest rate of 34.5 per 100,000 people.
Enormous racial disparities were also evident in the report. While making up only 13% of the population in the 34 states from which data was collected, Blacks made up 45% of new infections and 48% of individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The incidence rate of HIV infection was seven times higher for black men than for white men, and nine times higher for black women than for white women. Hispanic and Latino populations also suffer disproportionately with incidence rates for men and women that are three and five times higher than their white counterparts, respectively.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) have also experienced an upswing in HIV infection, accounting for 53% of new infections in 2006, the last year for which data were available. During the same year, the age group that had the highest percentage of HIV infection was people ages 13–29, who made up 34% of new infections.
“In some very real ways, HIV/AIDS is becoming a targeted disease in this country,” continued Smith. “Many communities of color, and other traditionally underserved and overlooked communities, are bearing the brunt of the epidemic because of a host of other factors including lack of educational opportunities and lack of access to reproductive and other health services. One way to stem the tide is for us to focus our efforts on these communities that need the most assistance by dedicating ourselves to bringing comprehensive sexuality education and fully integrated prevention services to young people.”
[i] HIV/AIDS Surveillance Cases of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2007 Vol. 19 (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 February 2009), accessed 20 February 2009, <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/reports/2007report/default.htm>.