- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Some 70 percent of people — nearly 840,000 — believed to be living with HIV in 2011 have not successfully treated their dangerous infections, the federal government said Tuesday.

Around 20 percent of this population were not yet aware of their infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

But another 66 percent “had been diagnosed, but were not engaged in regular HIV care,” the agency said.

Among young adults, aged 18-24, only 13 percent were deemed to have their HIV infections fully under control. This is primarily because “half” of these young adults don’t know they are infected, the CDC said.

Public health officials urge the use of antiretroviral medication because it can keep HIV “at very low levels.”

Low viral load benefits the health and life expectancy of the HIV-positive person — a person diagnosed with HIV at age 20 who promptly and consistently uses antiretroviral treatment “can expect to live an additional 51 years,” the CDC said.

Sex partners of HIV-positive persons also benefit: Regular antiretroviral treatment has been shown to reduce transmission of HIV by 96 percent, the agency said.

U.S. clinical guidelines now recommend that everyone diagnosed with HIV receive treatment, regardless of their “CD4 cell count” or viral load.

“For people living with HIV, it’s not just about knowing you’re infected — it’s also about going to the doctor for medical care,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, CDC director.

Helping people get tested and connected to care is “key to controlling the nation’s HIV epidemic,” Dr. Frieden said.

The CDC’s Vital Signs report was issued Tuesday in recognition of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

Each year, some 50,000 persons in the U.S. become infected with HIV. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy seeks to reduce new HIV infections and increase “viral suppression” among those living with HIV.

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