The rate of HIV infections diagnosed in the United States each year decreased by one-third over the past decade, a government study finds. Experts hailed it as hopeful news that the AIDS epidemic may be slowing down in the U.S.
After reviewing cases from all 50 states, the study found that the diagnosis rate fell to 16.1 per 100,000 people in 2011 from 24.1 in 2002. “It’s encouraging,” said Patrick Sullivan, an Emory University AIDS researcher who was not involved in the study.
The World Health Organization estimates 35 million people globally have the virus. More than 1 million people in the US are thought to be infected, with 18% unaware of their infections.
The study is based on HIV diagnoses from all 50 states’ health departments, which get test results from doctors’ office, clinics, hospitals and laboratories. The data span ten years, making this a larger and lengthier look at these trends than any previous study, said another study author, Amy Lansky of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although experts say reasons for the US decline in infections are unknown, it is in line with a global downturn in the Aids epidemic. Last week, the United Nations said that there were 2.1 million new HIV infections worldwide in 2013, down 38% from 2001.