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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Is HIV now endemic instead of epidemic?

A snapshot of the American AIDS epidemic, contains a few surprises, like half of those infected identifying as heterosexuals. However, 71% were male, so take the self-reported orientation for what it's worth.

Given all the bitter lessons learned about effective precautions the level of new infections is frustrating, even as a new era of powerful antiviral treatments translates an epidemic death sentence into an endemic chronic disease. Here are some numbers the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gleaned from a survey of 4,217 patients seeking medical care for HIV:

  • 50% identified as heterosexual and 50% as GBLT
  • Three-fourths were > 40 yrs of age; and 54% had been HIV+ for 10 or more years;
  • 44% were living below the poverty line and 9% were homeless;
  • 81% had some kind of health coverage, including Medicaid (40%), Medicare (26%), or private insurance (30.6%)
  • 68% had been diagnosed with AIDS; 87% now had CD4 counts > 200 cell/mL within the previous 6 months;
  • 88% were currently prescribed antiviral therapy; 6% had never been prescribed antivirals and the remainder had been treated but stopped therapy for various reasons.
  • 72% had an undetectable HIV viral load < 200 copies/mL with the previous 6 months;
  • 42% were current smokers;
  • Alcohol use was common; half drank alcohol within the previous 3 months with an average of 3.1 drinks per day;
  • 27% used non-injectable drugs, including marijuana (22%), crack (5%), cocaine (5%); and a much smaller number (2.1%) used injectable drugs;
  • 25% of the female patients had been pregnant at least once since testing HIV+.