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Most HIV-Positive Americans are not Getting Treatment

Update Date: Nov 26, 2014 09:40 AM EST

A new federal report found that the majority of Americans with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are not getting treatment. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added that only 30 percent of HIV-positive patients had the virus under control.

"There is untapped potential to drive down the epidemic through improved testing and treatment, but we're missing too many opportunities," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, said in a statement reported by Reuters.

For this study, the researchers examined 1.2 million HIV-positive patients in 2011. 840,000 of them were not taking anti-HIV medications everyday. Out of this group, 66 percent of them did not receive regular care. 20 percent of them were unaware that they were infected and 10 percent of them were prescribed anti-HIV medications; however, they could not get their virus under control. Another four percent of the patients were supervised under physician care but were not prescribed antiretroviral medications.

The CDC stated that reaching viral suppression is vital because it could greatly increase people's survival rates and reduce transmission rates by as much as 96 percent. In 2011, only about three in 10 patients were able to achieve viral suppression. Younger patients, between the ages of 18 and 24, were the least likely to have their HIV under control with just 13 percent of them achieving viral suppression. 23 percent of people aged 25 to 34, 27 percent of people aged 35 to 44, 34 percent of people aged 45 to 54, 36 percent of people aged 55 to 64 and 37 percent of people aged 65 and above achieved viral suppression.

"When you have an infection, you treat it," Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, told reporters according to NBC News. "People with HIV who achieve viral suppression aren't just healthier - they're also less likely to infect others. Today's study shows too many people with HIV aren't getting the care they need."

Roughly 50,000 Americans get infected with HIV every year.

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