The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released alarming new data on the HIV epidemic in the United States.
In a new report, the public health agency reveals that about eight in 10 new infections come from people who are not receiving the care they need.
HIV Transmitted By People Who Are Undiagnosed, Untreated
HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, is transmitted through certain body fluids. It attacks the body's immune system, preventing it from fighting off infections. If left untreated, HIV could lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS.
While there is still no cure for HIV, the virus can be controlled and suppressed through medication. The CDC says that taking HIV medicine as prescribed can make the amount of virus in the body very low, allowing the infected patient to stay healthy and prevent transmission.
Getting care is the key to ending the epidemic, but many who have the virus might not know. The CDC estimates that only half of the people who have HIV are in care and are virally suppressed.
"Some of that is because there are still people who don't know they have HIV, there are people who have HIV that aren't accessing the treatment necessary, and some of the people who are eligible for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), this pill that prevents you from getting HIV, aren't getting it," explained Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.
Ending The HIV Epidemic In The US
The government is rolling out a new initiative to control and end the HIV epidemic in the United States. The CDC hopes to cut the number of new infections by at least 90 percent in 10 years.
The public health agency says that it can be done through immediate and effective treatment.
"Diagnose, treat, protect, and respond: These are the key strategies in our historic initiative to end the HIV epidemic in America by engaging all the people at risk into comprehensive prevention strategies," stated Robert R. Redfield, CDC director.
The new initiative recommends that everyone aged 13 to 64 should be tested at least once. People who are more sexually active or at a higher risk of infection should be tested more frequently.
Those who have been diagnosed with HIV should take medication as prescribed in order to prevent transmitting the virus to others and to avoid experiencing health complications.