More Americans Living With HIV

New CDC Numbers: 1.1 Million in U.S. Had AIDS Virus in 2006, Up 11% from 2003

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 02, 2008

Oct. 2, 2008 -- The CDC says 1.1 million Americans were living with HIV in 2006, up 11% from 2003.

The new estimates are relatively good news. Thanks to better treatment, people with HIV are living longer than ever before.

More people with HIV means more people who can spread the AIDS virus, yet new infection rates have been stable at about 56,000 new infections a year. This suggests expanded HIV testing and prevention efforts are having an effect.

Nevertheless, the U.S. AIDS epidemic burns on. And it's a raging wildfire among African-Americans:

  • African-Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population and 46% of those with HIV.
  • 18 times more African-American women than white women have HIV.
  • Six times more African-American men than white men have HIV.

The disparity isn't limited to African-Americans:

  • Hispanic-Americans make up 15% of the U.S. population yet account for 18% of those with HIV.
  • Four times more Hispanic women than white women have HIV.
  • Two times more Hispanic men than white men have HIV.

The disparity also is not limited to gender. Three-fourths of Americans living with HIV are men.

There's also a big difference in how people became infected with HIV:

  • 48% of Americans living with HIV are men who have sex with men.
  • 28% of Americans living with HIV are heterosexual.
  • 72% of American women with HIV and 13% of American men with HIV were infected via heterosexual intercourse.
  • 19% of Americans living with HIV were infected via injection drug use.

The percentage of people who don't know they're infected with HIV is decreasing. That's good news, because such people are far more likely to spread their infection than are those who know their HIV status.

However, more than one in five people living with HIV -- 232,700 Americans -- have no idea they're carrying the AIDS virus.

That accounts for another sad statistic: 38% of Americans learn they have HIV only within a year of developing AIDS. Treatment is most effective when HIV is diagnosed soon after infection.

The new CDC estimates appear in the Oct. 3 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.