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Elizabeth Boskey, Ph.D.

HIV - Still A Problem

By December 31, 2012

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When the CDC released its most recent report on HIV rates, the news wasn't the best - new infection rates continue to remain steady. That means that despite massive improvements in HIV treatment, and even talk about a functional cure, HIV still remains a significant problem in the U.S.

Not all people are at equal risk. The highest risk groups continue to be men who have sex with men, African Americans, and Latinos, and minority MSM tend to be at the highest risk of all. Although some of the reason these groups are at disproportionate risk are biological, much of the excess risk can be laid directly on social causes. Stigma, and lack of awareness of actual levels of risk, contribute to relatively low rates of testing and protected sex in many of of these populations.

Although I don't miss the fact that HIV was so much more deadly back then, I do miss the "good old days" when HIV awareness and activism messages were at the forefront of the news. We need to do a better job of talking about HIV today, and we need to do it more often. Hopefully, if the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommendation for universal testing goes through, it will help. Not only can detecting more early HIV infections help with treatment and prevention, it should also help to improve discussions about the virus -- as high-risk groups begin to recognize just how common HIV infection is.

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