The Changing Face of HIV

According to the CDC, about 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, 21% of whom are currently undiagnosed. In 2008, the CDC estimated that approximately 56,300 people were newly infected with HIV in 2006. Over half (53%) of these new infections occurred in gay and bisexual men. African-American men and women were also strongly affected; these groups were estimated to have an incidence rate seven times as high as the incidence rate among Caucasians. Since the mid-1990s, there have been substantial reductions in the number of deaths and AIDS diagnoses thanks largely to increased screening efforts and use of effective antiretroviral therapy. Despite these advances, the incidence of HIV and new diagnoses in the United States has remained stable. Social, ethnic, and cultural population subgroups are increasingly affected by HIV. “When HIV was first identified, it was primarily occurring among gay men,” explains Kathleen E. Squires, MD. “More recently, we’ve seen a marked evolution in the groups of people being affected by HIV. The single largest affected group has been African Americans [Figure 1], especially those who are younger and living in urban areas or the rural South.” More than 50% of new HIV diagnoses reported each year are among African Americans. Other ethnic groups also bear a disproportionate disease burden. In 2002, HIV was the third leading cause of death among Hispanic men aged 35 to 44, and the fourth leading cause of death among Hispanic women in the same age group. The population of HIV-infected Asian and Pacific Islanders is also increasing in the United States. Considering Sexual Orientation The most common...