CDC estimates 154,000 Americans have HIV but don't know it

Grant Boone
December 5, 2019

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Tuesday that CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Rite Aid will begin offering a daily HIV drug free of cost to patients.

The report notes that in order to reach the goal of the Trump administration's plan announced earlier this year to achieve a 90 percent reduction in new HIV infections nationwide by the year 2030, far more people will need to begin taking PrEP than are now doing so.

Wellbeing Secretary Alex Azar called the new "Ready, Set, PrEP" program a "historic expansion of access to HIV prevention medication" and a "major step forward" in President Donald Trump's Ending the HIV Epidemic arrangement, which was declared in February and looks to diminish HIV transmission by 90 percent by 2030.

"Thousands of Americans who are at risk for HIV will now be able to protect themselves and their communities", Azar said in a conference call announcing the program.

"We can end the status quo providing that we change our expectations and the culture of satisfaction where we're at now", Jay Butler, the CDC's deputy director of infectious diseases said during a teleconference with reporters.

Overall, just 18 percent of those who are considered at risk for HIV - including men who have sex with men and injection drug users - are taking the PrEP regimen.

"In 2018, approximately 43 percent of HIV diagnoses were among blacks, and 26 percent were among Hispanics/Latinos", the report says.

According to the CDC, 154,000 people with HIV haven't been tested and don't know they have the virus.

The report noted that prior to 2013, progress was made in reducing the number of HIV infections.

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Patients will still need to speak to a clinician to decide if PrEP is the right treatment for their needs, and those visits can be provided at "low or no-cost" from many healthcare providers including those working in community clinics, he said.

The study reveals the drug was used by 42 percent of at-risk Whites and just six percent of Blacks.

More than 150,000 American are infected with HIV and don't know they have it, a new analysis has revealed, suggesting that testing and prevention services "have not reached enough Americans", Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said Tuesday. Among those who do know they have HIV, about 63% were on treatment and had a suppressed viral load - meaning more than a third still had uncontrolled HIV. For both measures, the government's goal is 95%.

"The number of people who acquire HIV.is unacceptably high and at a standstill", he said. "Ending this epidemic would be one of the greatest public health triumphs in our nation's history".

The Ready, Set, PrEP program is part of America's plan to end the HIV epidemic, which strives to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the U.S.by 75% in five years and by 90% in 10 years.

Two combination pills, Gilead Sciences' Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine) and Descovy (tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine), have been approved for prevention of sexually transmitted HIV. Percentages were lowest among people ages 13-24 (57%), blacks/African Americans (57%), and men who inject drugs (52%).

Earlier this year, Gilead announced that it will donate 2.4 million bottles of Truvada and Descovy to the federal government over the next decade.

Ongoing HIV lab testing, which is required for individuals to qualify for Truvada, will not be covered.

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