HIV Diagnosis Rate in US on Decline Over Past Decade

Overall annual diagnosis rate dropped 30% from 2002 to 2011, while a significant increase was found among young men who have sex with men.

Overall annual diagnosis rate dropped 30% from 2002 to 2011, while a significant increase was found among young men who have sex with men.

A decline in positive HIV infections among several key populations contributed to an overall diagnosis rate decrease of 30% in the United States from 2002 to 2011, according to a study published in the July 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Despite the overall drop, an increase in positive diagnoses was found among specific age groups of men who have sex with men, particularly young men, the study found.

“There has been increasing emphasis on care and treatment for persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the United States during the past decade, including the use of antiretroviral therapy for increasing survival and decreasing transmission,” the study authors wrote. “Accurate HIV diagnosis data recently became available for all states, allowing for the first time an examination of long-term national trends. These data can be used to monitor awareness of serostatus among persons living with HIV, primary prevention efforts, and testing initiatives.”

The researchers examined HIV diagnosis trends among people 13-years of age or older utilizing data from the National HIV Surveillance System of the CDC. From 2002 to 2011, there were a total of 493,372 positive HIV diagnoses, which represented a drop in the annual diagnosis rate of 33.2%, going from 24.1 per 100,000 people in 2002 to 16.1 per 100,000 in 2011.

The diagnosis rates in male-to-male sexual contact remained stable, however, with a significant increase of 132.5% observed among males 13 to 24-years of age. There were also increases found in men who have sex with men age 45 to 54-years old, and 55-years of age or older. A decrease in the diagnosis rate was found among males 35 to 44-years of age.

“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,” read a JAMA press release. “Disparities in rates of HIV among young men who have sex with men present prevention challenges and warrant expanded efforts.”

During the study’s timeframe, there was a decline in diagnosis rates among nearly all other demographic populations. The largest changes were found in women, people 35 to 44-years of age, and people of multiple races.

Additionally, the annual number of HIV diagnoses attributed to injection drug use and heterosexual contact also declined. There were no changes found in the Asian or Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islander populations.

The press release noted that trends observed in the study may have been influenced by changes in the testing patterns.

“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,” the study authors wrote. “Our study found overall decreases in annual diagnosis rates despite the implementation of testing initiatives during the period of analysis.”

Click here to read the full press release on JAMA.