Amid a frightening November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some encouraging statistics — the rate of HIV-related deaths among people 13 years and older in the U.S. fell by nearly half from 2010 to 2017.
The age-adjusted HIV-related death rate (the number of HIV-related deaths per 1,000 people with HIV) dropped from 9.1 to 4.7, a decline of 48 percent. In 2017, 16,358 people with HIV died, though only 5,534 of those deaths from HIV-related causes.
The findings, published in the CDC's Morbitity and Mortality Weekly Report, still found disturbing racial discrepancies, specifically in regards to Black Americans. But there was even some good news when it came to African-Americans and HIV.
"Although African Americans had a substantially higher HIV-related death rate than most other groups in 2017, the absolute gap between African Americans and whites fell by two-thirds between 2010 and 2017," the CDC noted in a press release. "In addition, the HIV-related death rate for Hispanics/Latinos was 7.9 in 2010 and by 2017 the rate decreased to 3.9 – the same as whites."
CDC officials noted that the improving survival rates are likely in response to earlier diagnoses for HIV-positive Americans, which often translates to life-saving treatment for them.
"From 2010 to 2018, the share of Americans with HIV who knew their status increased from 82% to an all-time high of 86%," according to the CDC report. "In that same period, the percentage of people with diagnosed HIV who had a suppressed viral load (a measure of the amount of HIV in a person’s blood) increased from 46% to nearly 65%."
The CDC will continue to advocate for more testing and early treatment for people living with HIV, as well as addressing higher death rates among Black Americans. Officials also hope to increase access to preventative HIV treatments like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
“The decline in HIV-related deaths proves that investments in HIV testing, care, and treatment are paying off, but we should also protect people from getting HIV in the first place,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., Director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “Through the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, we are working to accelerate progress and ultimately make this epidemic a thing of the past.”