The number of annual HIV diagnoses declined by 19 percent between 2005 and 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday evening, but diagnoses jumped 6 percent among men who have sex with other men.
Though they represent only about 2 percent of the population, men who have sex with other men accounted for nearly 67 percent of all HIV diagnoses in 2014 -- 26,612 cases, according to the CDC report. The rise was driven by sizable increases among African Americans (from 8,235 diagnoses in 2005 to 10,080 last year) and Latinos (from 5,492 to 6,829). Among whites, the number fell considerably (from 9,966 to 8,207).
Still, the report showed that the rate of increase among black gay and bisexual men has slowed in recent years.
The data were released as a CDC-sponsored conference focused on preventing HIV infections began in Atlanta. About 40,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States last year, and an estimated 1.2 million are currently living with the virus, according to the report.
“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,” Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a release. “Much more must be done to reduce new infections and to reverse the increases among Latino men."
The overall decline in annual HIV cases was driven by heterosexuals (a 35 percent drop) and people who use injection drugs (a 63 percent drop). Cases among women decreased by 40 percent, from 12,499 in 2005 to 7,533 in 2014, with steady, marked declines among whites, blacks and Latinos.
The South bears a greater share of the HIV burden, the CDC found. About 44 percent of people who are infected live in a southern state, though the region accounts for just 37 percent of the U.S. population. In 2012, seven of the 10 states with the highest HIV death rates were Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, Delaware and Maryland.
In fact, Louisiana's rate of 30.8 deaths for every 1,000 people living with the virus was more than three times higher than Vermont's rate of 7.9 deaths, the nation's lowest. Not surprisingly, the proportion of people with HIV who are aware of their positive status is generally lowest across the South.