July 30, 2012
Only 25 percent of Americans with HIV have their virus under control, according to a CDC report released Friday at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington. African Americans and younger people are least likely to be in regular care and treatment, CDC said.
[PNU editor's note: Among African Americans with HIV, 81 percent have been diagnosed; 34 percent are retained in care; 29 percent have been prescribed antiretroviral therapy; and 21 percent are virally suppressed, CDC reported.]
Among Americans ages 25-34 who have HIV, 72 percent have been diagnosed; but only 28 percent receive regular care and 15 percent are virally suppressed.
"We've got to do better," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. More widespread HIV testing is critical, and it needs to be easier to link those infected directly to care and make sure they stay there, he said: "I want to make the healthy choice the easy choice."
Programs to retain patients are not working or are not plentiful enough, the report said.
"We need to reverse-engineer; we understand how many other countries are doing this better and often with U.S. tax dollars," said Nancy Mahon, chair of President Barack Obama's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and global executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund (MAF).
Toward that end, MAF announced its support of joint efforts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve retention in HIV care. These efforts include UCARE4LIFE, a two-year mobile texting pilot program in the South sending disease-management reminders and tips. Another is a forum to explore successful programs, including U.S. overseas efforts.