Ending the HIV epidemic: treatment is key


When taken as directed, ART reduces the amount of HIV in the body to a very low level —also known as viral suppression. Studies indicate that people who are virally suppressed can protect their own health and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to others through sex, as long as they stay virally suppressed.

The findings of the analysis highlight:

  • A need to increase the proportion of people who are aware of their HIV status. The nearly 15 percent of people with HIV whose infections are undiagnosed, account for almost 40 percent of all HIV transmissions.
  • It’s critical to help those with HIV get care. The roughly 23 percent of people with HIV whose infections are diagnosed, but they are not receiving HIV care, account for 43 percent of all HIV transmissions.
  • The importance of helping people with HIV take medicine and maintain viral suppression. The 11 percent of people with HIV who were receiving care, but were not virally suppressed, account for 20 percent of all HIV transmissions.

Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC

“Today, we have the tools to end the HIV epidemic,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “But a tool is only useful if it’s in someone’s hands. This is why it’s vital to bring testing and treatment to everyone with HIV – and to empower them to take control of their lives and change the course of the epidemic.”

CDC scientists used a model to estimate HIV transmission in 2016 along the HIV continuum of care. Model inputs on HIV prevalence, incidence, receipt of care, and viral suppression came from the National HIV Surveillance System data, and inputs on HIV risk behaviors came from National HIV Behavioral Surveillance data.

What can everyone do to stop new HIV infections?

  • Know your HIV status and how to prevent HIV.
  • Support family and friends who have HIV: cdc.gov/together
  • If you are living with HIV, start HIV care immediately (or as soon as possible), stay in care, and take medicine as prescribed.
  • Use prevention tools such as condoms and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent transmission of HIV if at risk of acquiring HIV: cdc.gov/hiv/risk

CDC’s efforts to increase testing and treatment for people with HIV

CDC works with national, state, and local partners to:

  • Increase HIV testing.
  • Link people with HIV to care and help them remain in care.
  • Track HIV trends so that federal and state resources are quickly directed to the most affected populations and to the areas with the greatest need.

To read the entire Vital Signs report, visit: www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/end-HIV. For more information about the federal initiative to end the HIV epidemic in the United States, visit: https://www.hiv.gov/ending-hiv-epidemic?s_cid=ht_endinghivinternet0001external icon.

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