Vital Signs: HIV Prevention Through Care and Treatment

United States

Stacy M. Cohen, MPH; Michelle M. Van Handel, MPH; Bernard M. Branson, MD; Janet M. Blair, PhD; H. Irene Hall, PhD; Xiaohong Hu, MS; Linda J. Koenig, PhD; Jacek Skarbinski, MD; Angie Tracey, Jonathan Mermin, MD; Linda A. Valleroy, PhD


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2011;60(47):1618-1623. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: An estimated 1.2 million persons in the United States were living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in 2008. Improving survival of persons with HIV and reducing transmission involve a continuum of services that includes diagnosis (HIV testing), linkage to and retention in HIV medical care, and ongoing HIV prevention interventions, including appropriately timed antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Methods: CDC used three surveillance datasets to estimate recent HIV testing and HIV prevalence among U.S. adults by state, and the percentages of HIV-infected adults receiving HIV care for whom ART was prescribed, who achieved viral suppression, and who received prevention counseling from health-care providers. Published data were used to estimate the numbers of persons in the United States living with and diagnosed with HIV and, based on viral load and CD4 laboratory reports, linked to and retained in HIV care.
Results: In 2010, 9.6% of adults had been tested for HIV during the preceding 12 months (range by state: 4.9%–29.8%). Of the estimated 942,000 persons with HIV who were aware of their infection, approximately 77% were linked to care, and 51% remained in care. Among HIV-infected adults in care, 45% received prevention counseling, and 89% were prescribed ART, of whom 77% had viral suppression. Thus, an estimated 28% of all HIV-infected persons in the United States have a suppressed viral load.
Conclusions: Prevalence of HIV testing and linkage to care are high but warrant continued effort. Increasing the percentages of HIV-infected persons who remain in HIV care, achieve viral suppression, and receive prevention counseling requires additional effort.
Implications for Public Health Practice: Public health officials and HIV care providers should improve engagement at each step in the continuum of HIV care and monitor progress in every community using laboratory reports of viral load and CD4 test results.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes a chronic infection that leads to a progressive disease. Without treatment, most persons with HIV develop acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) within 10 years of infection, which results in substantial morbidity and premature death.[1] Approximately 50,000 persons in the United States were infected with HIV annually during 2006–2009.[2] Approximately 16,000 persons with AIDS die each year.[3] A consistently suppressed HIV viral load is associated with reduced morbidity and mortality and a lower probability of transmitting HIV to sex partners.[4] Testing identifies infected persons and is the entry point to a continuum of HIV health-care and social services that improve health outcomes, including survival. This continuum includes diagnosis (HIV testing), linkage to and retention in continuous medical care for HIV, prevention counseling and other services that reduce transmission, and appropriately timed and consistent antiretroviral therapy (ART) for viral suppression. This report estimates the number of HIV-infected persons who received selected services along the continuum of HIV care in the United States and the overall percentage of persons with HIV who had a suppressed viral load.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: