In 2014, African-American women accounted for 62 percent of new HIV diagnoses among women, despite representing only 13 percent of the U.S. female population. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded an effort to increase the number of black women tested for HIV. A new report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that goal was reached. In addition, the increased testing led to more HIV-positive African-American women being linked to care, and counterintuitively, a reduction in the number of new HIV cases among black females.
Early diagnosis, quick linkage to care, and continuous treatment have long term positive impacts on both health outcomes and prevention efforts. The faster people with HIV begin antiretroviral treatment, the faster they can reach viral suppression, which dramatically reduces the chance they'll transmit the virus to others.
Researchers analyised data submitted by 61 state and local health departments for the the years 2012 through 2014. Over the two year period, the study found that the number of newly diagnosed positive black females who were linked to HIV medical care within 90 days increased from just under 34 percent in 2012 to just over 50 percent in 2014.
The scientists discoverd the CDC-funded program may have also had a significant impact on the number of new diagnoses among black females. Nationally, the new diagnoses among African-American women fell 13.5 percent in that two year period; but the jurisdictions participating in the CDC program reported a decrease of 17 percent, dropping from 2,177 new cases in 2012 to 1,806 in 2014.
Although the program was successful on multiple fronts, the paper's authors noted that the National HIV/AIDS Strategy has established a goal to link 85 percent of newly diagnosed people with medical care. To move from 50 percent to 85 percent will require redoubled efforts to get black women tested and linked to care. If this program is any indication, increasing testing could have the unexpected outcome of lowering the number of new HIV cases.