HIV Rates In The US Are Dropping. Here’s Why.

Jun, 2023 - by CMI

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday a 12 percent drop in expected new HIV infections nationwide between 2017 and 2021 and a 34 percent drop in new infections among 13- to 24-year-olds, who make up the majority of new cases.

Massachusetts and the US have lower HIV rates, however race and ethnicity vary. Hispanic/Latino (36% and 27%) and Black/African-American (27%). Massachusetts HIV diagnoses have dropped since 2000. HIV cases declined 15.7% to 539 in 2019, according to a 2022 Massachusetts Department of Public Health study. Senator Julian Cyr said the Commonwealth's HIV prevention and treatment programs have progressed faster in 20 years. Since 2006, the state has enabled verbal HIV testing, required HIV drug coverage, and increased Medicaid eligibility for low-income HIV-positive people.

According to the state Department of Public Health, drug users—particularly homeless ones—cause one-third of HIV-related deaths. Drug injection caused 29% of 2020 HIV infections. Dr. Paul Sax, clinical chief of Brigham and Women's Hospital's infectious diseases department and Harvard Medical School professor, said, "It's alarming that there are sporadic clusters of cases, which shows how flimsy prevention efforts are in the drug-using population. "According to 2018-2020 DPH data, black and Hispanic Commonwealth residents were diagnosed with HIV eight and four times more often than whites.

Gary Daffin, executive director of the Roxbury Multicultural AIDS Coalition, says stigmatized young men of color who have sex with men have higher HIV infection rates.  Sax said that addressing racial and socioeconomic gaps required regular visits to questionable doctors because PrEP requires a prescription. Emergency departments and uninsured patients are at higher risk for STIs, so these drugs should not be given there. Caucasian men use PrEP more than men of color, who need it most, according to CDC data. In 2021, 25% of qualifying Black and Hispanic men was expected to utilize PrEP, compared to 75% of White men. Mayer believes these distinctions make ethnic communities' healthcare access difficult. Community care providers need support to overcome these inclinations and create more equal systems.