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People Living Longer With HIV

Effective Drugs, Prevention Efforts, and Educational Programs Helping to Reduce Infections
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

June 2, 2011 -- The number of people living with HIV continues to rise. That’s mainly because of highly effective drugs that allow people infected with HIV to live longer, healthier lives, the CDC says.

But another reason is that prevention efforts and educational programs have helped reduce infections, CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, says in a news release. That news release, dated June 2, 2011, marks 30 years since the first report of the illness that came to be known as AIDS was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The CDC says in its MMWR dated June 3 that highly active antiretroviral therapy is effective and that the death rate of people infected with HIV has declined dramatically over the past two decades.

But the AIDS crisis is not over, and Frieden says more resolve is needed to end this epidemic.

HIV/AIDS Still Infecting and Killing People

The new report says that every year about 50,000 U.S. residents are infected with HIV. Half of the newly infected are men who have sex with men. And nearly half are African-American.

In the latest MMWR, CDC researchers say 1.17 million people in the United States are living with the virus and about 20% do not know they are infected.

Among key findings:

  • In the first 14 years after the first cases of AIDS were reported in the U.S. in 1981, sharp increases were reported in the number of new AIDS diagnoses and deaths among people 13 and over.
  • In 1992, the CDC says there were 75,457 new AIDS diagnoses, compared to 318 in 1981, and that deaths caused by the disease reached 50,628 in 1995, compared to 451 in 1981.
  • CDC researchers say AIDS diagnoses dropped 45% between 1993 and 1998, from 75,263 to 41,462. AIDS deaths dropped 63% from 1995 to 1998, from 50,628 to 18,851.
  • Between 1999 and 2008, AIDS diagnoses remained stable at an average of 38,279 per year. Deaths caused by AIDS averaged 17,489 per year during that time period.
  • The CDC estimates that 594,496 people have died from AIDS since 1981.

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