MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report 2018 02 0267(4) 113-118 doi 10.15585/mmwr.mm6704a2
Non-Hispanic blacks/African Americans (blacks) represent 12% of the U.S.
* However, in 2014 an estimated 43% (471,500) of persons living with diagnosed and undiagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection were blacks (1). In 2016, blacks accounted for 44% of all new HIV diagnoses (2). Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) prescriptions among persons in HIV care increased overall from 89% in 2009 to 94% in 2013, fewer blacks than Hispanics or Latinos (Hispanics) and non-Hispanic whites (whites) were on ART and had a suppressed viral load (<200 HIV RNA copies/mL) in their most recent viral load test result (3). Blacks also might be less likely to have sustained viral suppression over time and to experience longer periods with viral loads >1,500 HIV RNA copies/mL, a level that increases the risk for transmitting HIV (4-7). National HIV Surveillance System (NHSS) data are among those used to monitor progress toward reaching the national goal of reducing health disparities. CDC analyzed NHSS data to describe sustained viral suppression and transmission risk potential by race/ethnicity. Among 651,811 persons with HIV infection diagnosed through 2013 and who were alive through 2014 in 38 jurisdictions with complete laboratory reporting, a lower percentage of blacks had sustained viral suppression (40.8%), than had Hispanics (50.1%) and whites (56.3%). Among persons who were in care (i.e., had at least one viral load test in 2014) and had not achieved sustained viral suppression in 2014, blacks experienced longer periods (52.1% of the 12-month period) with viral loads >1,500 copies/mL, than did Hispanics (47.2%) and white (40.8%). Blacks aged 13-24 years had the lowest prevalence of sustained viral suppression, a circumstance that might increase transmission risk potential. Strengthening interventions that improve access to ART, promote adherence, and address barriers to clinical care and supportive services for all persons with diagnosed HIV infection is important for achieving the national goal of reducing health disparities.