Is Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the US Feasible by 2025?

HIV graph lowering
HIV graph lowering
Researchers at Johns Hopkins were able to project yearly estimates of new HIV infections and forecast the route of HIV in the US.

An end to the HIV epidemic in the United States may be within reach, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

By using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) HIV surveillance data, researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital were able to project yearly estimates of new infections and forecast the route of HIV in the U.S. if the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) goals are met. The goals were designated with the titles “90/90/90” and “95/95/95” and were set for 2020 and 2025, respectively.

The “90/90/90” goal aims to have 90% of those with HIV aware of their status, 90% of those who are diagnosed to be receiving HIV quality care, and 90% of those receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) achieve viral suppression. The “95/95/95” goals are the same only with a 5% greater reach. 

The researchers project – in the scenario of the NHAS goals being reached – the number of HIV infections would drop from 39,000 in 2013 to roughly 12,000 in 2025, a drop of almost 70%. “If the United States were to reduce the number of new HIV infections to 12,000 by 2025, this would mark an important inflection point in the HIV epidemic in this country,” said lead author of the study, Robert Bonacci, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. 

If the NHAS targets were reached, the number of deaths among HIV infected individuals would decrease from 16,500 in 2013 to approximately 12,522 in 2025, a 24% decrease, representing the first year that new infection rates drop below the number of HIV related deaths. “If new infections decline faster than the number of deaths, the total number of people living with HIV in the United States would begin to decrease, meaning the United States would be on course to end the epidemic,” said Dr. Bonacci. 

Separate research, published last week, estimated that a 20-year-old diagnosed with HIV today could have a life expectancy close to that of the general population. However, such estimates depend on access and adherence to ART. In the “U.S. HIV Incidence and Transmission Goals, 2020 and 2025” study the authors acknowledge that many HIV infected individuals lack access to ART, particularly in southern states.

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Bonacci RA, Holtgrave DR. US HIV incidence and transmission goals, 2020 and 2025. Am J Prev Med. 2017 May 6. pii: S0749-3797(17)30202-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.03.012. [Epub ahead of print]

This article originally appeared on MPR