Latest Data Signals Progress Towards National HIV/AIDS Strategy Goals, But More Work Required

Content From: Richard Wolitski, Ph.D., Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: August 04, 20174 min read


Richard Wolitski, Ph.D., Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Last week, I announced that we would be blogging about some of the indicator data that were released in the Monitoring Report [PDF, 2.32MB] from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It contains new data on a number of indicators that are used to monitor progress on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), Healthy People 2020, the National Prevention Strategy, and other important efforts to assess progress and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our HIV prevention, care, and treatment efforts. In these blogs we will focus specifically on those indictors included in the NHAS. We will review the most recent indicator results, discuss the changes over time, and highlight how the results differ by gender, age, and race/ethnicity. Before we dive into each of the indicators, what I wanted to do this week is to set the stage for this series by providing an overview of how we are doing in relationship to annual targets that we established for NHAS.

It’s clear from these data that we’ve made significant progress, but our fight against HIV is far from over. Encouragingly, as you can see in the table below, the annual targets were met or exceeded for nine of the 17 indicators. 

Some of these improvements include:

  • Knowledge of HIV serostatus increased from 82.7% in 2010 to 85.0% in 2014
  • The number of new HIV diagnoses decreased by nearly 7% from 43,806 in 2010 to 40,873 in 2014
  • The percentage of persons living with diagnosed HIV who were virally suppressed increased from 46.0% in 2010 to 57.9% in 2014
  • The number of adults prescribed PrEP increased by more than 300% from 7,972 in 2014 to 33,273 in 2015 

For two more of the 17 indicators there was movement in the right direction, but the annual target was not met. Those indicators are linkage to HIV medical care, which had met its target in last year’s indicator update; and retention in HIV medical care. 

Unfortunately, annual targets were not met and continue to move in the wrong direction for five of the 17 indicators. These indicators are:

  • High-risk behaviors among young gay and bisexual males;
  • Disparities in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men;
  • Disparities in new HIV diagnoses among young black gay and bisexual men;
  • Disparities in new HIV diagnoses among persons living in the southern United States; and
  • Homelessness among persons in HIV medical care.

Unfortunately, this is the second consecutive year for which annual targets for these five indicators were not met and, in some cases, showed movement in the wrong direction. As we shared in a recent blog post three ad hoc subgroups of the NHAS Federal Interagency Workgroup are examining why these indicators are not improving and what changes to programs, policies, services, and/or investments we can propose that could better move the indicators in the right direction.

We now have the tools that had been needed for so long to prevent new infections, dramatically improve the health of those living with HIV, and end the epidemic. Achieving our goals for the nation will not be easy and will require leveraging the research, knowledge, skills, and capacity that has supported this progress and made it possible. It is now more important than ever that we work to scale up some of the scientific advances we’ve achieved. The most important of these is HIV testing to diagnose those living with HIV and current HIV medications to bring down viral loads to such low levels that the risk of sexual transmission of HIV appears to become so low that it is virtually eliminated.

Ensuring that people living with HIV, and those who are at increased risk of infection, are able to access HIV prevention, testing, care, and treatment is absolutely essential. We all have to do our parts if we are to achieve our nation’s vision of an end to HIV.

In the next blog of this NHAS Indicators series, we will kick off our review of the indicators by looking at our indicator for knowledge of HIV serostatus. Stay tuned…