CDC Issues Dear Colleague Letter About World AIDS Day 2017

Content From: Eugene McCray, M.D., Director, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH, (RADM, USPHS), Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPublished: December 01, 20174 min read


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CDC World AIDS Day Graphic

Cross-posted from NCHHSTP Communications Center 

Dear Colleague,

December 1 is World AIDS Day, a day to join partners across the world in the fight against HIV, support people living with HIV, and honor those who have lost their lives. This year’s theme, Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships, asks that we work together to accelerate progress toward ending HIV as a public health threat in the United States and around the world by openly discussing implementation challenges and new opportunities, holding ourselves to high standards, and collaborating on our shared goals of HIV prevention and treatment.

In 2016, 39,782 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States. An estimated 1.1 million people are living with HIV, and about 1 in 7 don’t know it. Though HIV continues to threaten the health and well-being of thousands of Americans, we have more tools than ever to help prevent HIV.

Recent trends in HIV diagnoses suggest that prevention efforts are working. From 2011 to 2015, the annual number of HIV diagnoses in the United States declined by 5%, driven by a 15% decline among heterosexuals and a 17% decline among people who inject drugs. However, HIV diagnoses have increased among some groups, such as Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men, and only 49% of people living with HIV in the United States have achieved viral suppression. People who take HIV medicine as prescribed and achieve and maintain viral suppression can live long and healthy lives and have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner.

Prompt diagnosis and linkage to treatment are essential to achieve further declines in HIV infections and better health for those living with HIV. Around 40% of new HIV infections in the United States come from people who do not know they are living with HIV. Half of the people diagnosed with HIV in the United States in 2015 had been living with the virus at least 3 years at the time of diagnosis; a quarter of people had HIV 7 years or more before diagnosis. A recent Vital Signs report calls for increased routine and targeted HIV testing to reduce delays between infection and diagnosis.

CDC is committed to reducing new HIV infections among all Americans and improving health outcomes for those who are living with HIV. For example,

  • Through current cooperative agreements, CDC awards state and local health departments approximately $400 million each year for conducting HIV surveillance activities and providing high-impact prevention programs to the populations and geographic areas of greatest need.
  • Under the Capacity Building Assistance for High-Impact HIV Prevention program, a national program that addresses gaps in the HIV continuum of care, CDC is providing training and technical assistance for health departments and other organizations.
  • CDC is working to increase the availability, access, and uptake of biomedical approaches to HIV prevention such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
  • Through Act Against AIDS campaigns and partnerships, CDC raises awareness about HIV prevention. For example,
    • Doing It, a national testing and prevention campaign, encourages all adults to know their HIV status and make HIV testing a part of their regular health routine.
    • HIV Treatment Works shows how people living with HIV have overcome barriers to stay in care and provides resources on how to live well with HIV.
    • Partnering and Communicating Together (PACT) to Act Against AIDS is a partnership with organizations such as AIDS United and I Choose Life to raise HIV awareness among populations disproportionately affected by HIV.

On World AIDS Day, let us reflect on our accomplishments and refocus on the future. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to prevent HIV. We look forward to continuing our collaboration and making greater progress in reducing HIV infections, improving health outcomes, and reducing health disparities in HIV diagnoses and care among all Americans.


/Eugene McCray/

Eugene McCray, MD
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

/Jonathan Mermin/

Jonathan H. Mermin, MD, MPH
RADM and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention