There are probably about 225,000 more people living with HIV in the USA than official figures have been reporting, according to a new study carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC has used a new laboratory test to calculate yearly incidence of new HIV infections in the USA. Official figures had informed that in 2006 there were 40,000 new HIV infection cases nationally. However, the new CDC study says the figure should have been 56,000 – 40% higher.

The CDC study also concludes that annual incidence of new HIV cases has been fairly stable since the end of the last decade. The researchers stress that this increased estimate does not mean HIV incidence has gone up – it just means it had been calculated wrongly. The under-calculation may amount to a shortfall of approximately 15,000 new cases per year for 15 years – totaling an additional 225,000 new cases.

The conclusions of the study were made in October 2007, but they could not be released until the report had been peer-reviewed. You can read the report in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), August 6th issue. Several healthcare professionals say the study should have been released earlier. Some wonder why the Bush Administration spends so many billions on the HIV/AIDS fight abroad, while not doing enough at home.

It is anticipated that the estimated number of new HIV infections will continue to be high in the USA, according to AIDS Action. AIDS Actions said “After 27 years the United States lacks a coherent strategy for combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic, reflected in this disturbing increase in the estimate of HIV incidence.”

Joseph Interrante, CEO, Nashville CARES in Nashville, TN and Chair of AIDS Action Council’s Board of Directors, said “The revised CDC figure represents an unacceptable level of new HIV infections for a preventable disease. The revised estimate underlines the need for a National AIDS Strategy with measurable outcomes, reliance on evidence-based programs, and sufficient funding. Stopping the spread of HIV and treating all people living with HIV must be a high priority for our leaders and the American public.”

AIDS Action Deputy Executive Director Ronald Johnson said “The higher estimate of annual new HIV infections does not mean that HIV prevention does not work. What is failing is national leadership to fund and support sound, scientifically effective HIV prevention programs.”

AIDS Action says that federal funding for USA HIV prevention has not kept pace with the epidemic, especially with regards to the crisis of HIV/AIDS among African American and Hispanic communities, as well as among men who have sex with men.

In fact, when adjustments are made for inflation, domestic HIV prevention funding has fallen since 2001.

AIDS Action said “Federal law blocks federal funding for syringe exchange programs, which the scientific literature has demonstrated clearly as an effective HIV prevention tool. Support for comprehensive sex education that helps keep young people healthy is neglected while the current administration supports pouring millions of dollars into abstinence-only programs that have been proven to be ineffective.”

Ronald Johnson added “This is not just another set of statistics. There are people behind these numbers. People are becoming infected with a disease that is preventable. We know how to prevent HIV, but we have been fighting this epidemic with one hand tied behind our back, reflecting a disturbing dismissal of HIV prevention as a public health priority,” Johnson said. “The new, higher estimate is yet one more wake-up call to our national leaders that they need to do more, starting with developing and implementing a real national AIDS strategy.”

“Estimation of HIV Incidence in the United States”
JAMA. 2008;300[5]:520-529
Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
NB – This report will not be available until 6th August.

UNAIDS/WHO, 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, July 2008

Sub-Saharan Africa
– 22.0 million (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 1.9 million (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 5.0% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 1.5 million (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

South/Southeast Asia
– 4.2 million (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 330,000 (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 0.3% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 340,000 (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

Eastern Europe/Central Asia
– 1.5 million (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 110,000 (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 0.8% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 58,000 (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

Latin America
– 1.7 million (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 140,000 (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 0.5% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 63,000 (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

North America (**Will have to be revised up after new report**)
– 1.2 million (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 54,000 (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 0.6% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 23,000 (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

East Asia
– 740,000 (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 52,000 (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 0.1% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 40,000 (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

Western/Central Europe
– 730,000 (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 27,000 (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 0.3% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 8,000 (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

Middle East/North Africa
– 380,000 (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 40,000 (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 0.3% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 27,000 (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

Caribbean
– 230,000 (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 20,000 (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 1.1% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 14,000 (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

Oceania
– 74,000 (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
– 13,000 (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
– 0.4% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
– 1,000 (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

Global
32.9 million (Adults aged 15+ & children living with HIV/AIDS 2007)
2.7 million (New HIV infections adults aged 15+ & children 2007)
0.8% (Adult aged 15-49 prevalence 2007)
2.0 million (Adult aged 15+ & child deaths due to AIDS 2007)

Written by – Christian Nordqvist