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HIV Diagnoses Plummet by 19 Percent

FILE - Reggie Batiste (l) program manager with AIDS Healthcare Foundation, administers a free HIV test as part of National HIV Testing Day, June 27, 2013, in Atlanta.

The number of HIV diagnoses in the U.S. has fallen by 19 percent since 2005, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The drop was driven largely by “dramatic and continuing” declines among heterosexuals, intravenous drug users and African Americans, but gay and bisexual men have not seen the same reductions, the CDC said.

“Although we are encouraged by the recent slowing of the epidemic among black gay and bisexual men – especially young men – they continue to face a disproportionately high HIV burden and we must address it,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “Much more must be done to reduce new infections and to reverse the increases among Latino men. There is hope that the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and other efforts are beginning to pay off, but we can’t rest until we see equal gains for all races and risk groups.”

For male gay and bisexuals, the picture is much more nuanced, depending on race and ethnicity, the CDC said.

Among white gay and bisexual males, diagnoses fell by 18 percent, but for Latinos and blacks, diagnoses were up 24 and 22 percent respectively though the CDC noted positive diagnoses among blacks had leveled off since 2010.

Age also appeared to be a factor with young black gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 seeing an 87 percent jump in diagnoses between 2005 and 2014. That too has appeared to level off after 2010.

The CDC said that HIV testing levels have “remained stable or increased among the groups experiencing declines in diagnoses in recent years,” leading them to believe the decreases in diagnoses reflects a drop in new infections.