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Undiagnosed/Untreated HIV Implicated in Most New Cases

Findings suggest there’s a long way to go in containing spread of the disease

MONDAY, Feb. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Undiagnosed and untreated people with HIV may be responsible for more than nine out of 10 new infections, according to research published online Feb. 23 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The findings “highlight the community-wide prevention benefits of expanding HIV diagnosis and treatment in the United States,” a team led by Jacek Skarbinski, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, writes in the report. Looking at 2009 data, Skarbinski’s team said that about 45,000 new cases of HIV were transmitted that year, adding to the total of more than 1.1 million Americans who were already living with HIV.

Using national databases, the investigators estimated that more than 18 percent of that total remained undiagnosed, while another 45 percent were aware of their status but were not getting medical care. Only about one-quarter of HIV-infected Americans had managed to get their viral status under control by using the current standard of care — antiretroviral therapy, the researchers found.

Treated patients who have been able to suppress their virus are 94 percent less likely to transmit HIV than those with undiagnosed HIV, the researchers found. So the vast majority of new infections in the United States — nearly 92 percent — likely occur after contact with people who don’t know they carry HIV, or do not receive treatment.

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