U.S. health officials have revealed that only 30 percent of Americans with HIV have the virus under control with many unaware that they are infected or not receiving the medical care that they need.

A report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday shows that of the 1.2 million Americans with HIV in 2011, 840,000, were unable to achieve viral suppression.

Achieving viral suppression means attaining very low levels of the virus in the blood. It does not mean that an HIV-infected person is cured but suppressing the virus and reducing its amount to very low levels with antiretroviral therapy allow patients to live longer and healthier as well as reduce their odds of infecting others.

"Persons who are diagnosed with HIV at age 20 years and initiate ART immediately and consistently throughout their lives can expect to live an additional 51 years, which approaches the life expectancy of a person aged 20 years in the general population," CDC researchers wrote in the study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on Nov. 25. "Early ART has been shown to reduce the likelihood of sexual transmission of HIV by 96%."

Of the 70 percent of HIV patients who were unable to keep their virus under control, 66 percent had been diagnosed but were not receiving regular medical care; 20 percent were not aware they are infected, 10 percent were prescribed with antiretroviral treatment but were unable to get the virus under control, and 4 percent were under the care of a physician but not prescribed to take antiretroviral drugs.

"There is untapped potential to drive down the epidemic through improved testing and treatment, but we're missing too many opportunities," said CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention director Jonathan Mermin. "Treatment is crucial. It is one of our most important strategies for stopping new HIV infections."

The state of young HIV patients is particularly alarming as CDC researchers found them to have increased risk for uncontrolled HIV with only 13 percent of infected individuals between 18 and 24 years old achieving viral suppression.

The report says that only half of patients in this age group were diagnosed compared with 90 percent in those who were at least 45 years old suggesting that young patients do not get the necessary medical care because there are less odds that they have been diagnosed with HIV.

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