New HIV instances are slowing, however there are clear racial and geographic disparities : NPR


New analysis reveals that the U.S. is making progress in stopping new HIV infections however the features are taking place inconsistently throughout racial and ethnic teams.


The U.S. is making progress in controlling the HIV epidemic. New instances are slowing down, in response to a report launched this week by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. It is encouraging information, however the numbers additionally present that not everyone seems to be benefiting from these enhancements. NPR’s Will Stone joins us now to clarify. Hello, Will.

WILL STONE, BYLINE: Hello there.

RASCOE: Let’s begin with the excellent news. How huge of an enchancment are we speaking about right here?

STONE: Properly, the CDC discovered that new instances of HIV had been 12% decrease in 2021 as in comparison with 2017. In order that’s an actual and significant step in the fitting course. And it is primarily as a result of infections fell considerably in younger folks. There was truly a 34% lower in instances amongst youngsters and people of their early 20s. And right here we’re primarily speaking about homosexual and bisexual males, who account for almost all of latest instances on this age group and extra broadly within the U.S.

RASCOE: And do now we have a way of why that’s?

STONE: There are a selection of things. The most important, although, is clearly PrEP, and that is the treatment you’re taking to stop HIV infections. The share of people that would profit from PrEP and are being prescribed it greater than doubled since 2017. I spoke to Patrick Sullivan, who’s an epidemiologist at Emory College.

PATRICK SULLIVAN: We now have a technology of youthful homosexual and bisexual males who’ve actually grown up and develop into sexually energetic at a time when PrEP was out there. The one factor that I believe we nonetheless have to actually take note of within the knowledge that had been simply launched – it wasn’t actually realized evenly throughout the racial and ethnic teams.

STONE: And that final level is basically the opposite aspect of this seemingly optimistic information – that some long-entrenched disparities truly look like rising.

RASCOE: So what are we seeing alongside these strains?

STONE: It is fairly stark on this new knowledge. When you have a look at white folks, it is estimated near 80% who would profit from PrEP are being prescribed it. However for many who are Hispanic and Latino, that quantity drops right down to 21%, and it is solely 11% amongst Black folks. So it is actually not a shock that new HIV infections are disproportionately affecting these teams. You additionally see disparities play out geographically.

RASCOE: So that you’re saying that some components of the U.S. are being extra affected by HIV than others?

STONE: That is proper. At this level, truly, greater than half of latest infections are taking place within the South. I spoke to Will Ramirez about this. He is with the Southern AIDS Coalition.

WILL RAMIREZ: Elevating consciousness that PrEP exists doesn’t mechanically set off demand and use. There’s nonetheless issues that they should take care of, particularly right here within the South – anti-HIV sentiment, anti-gay stigma. After which many people who find themselves eligible for PrEP – they do not entry it.

STONE: Ramirez says one clear barrier is just not having well being protection. Many states within the South have not expanded Medicaid. They do not essentially have packages that cowl the price of labs and visits. And on prime of that, you must discover a physician who’s prepared to prescribe the drug.

RASCOE: What does this imply wanting ahead? Did not the U.S. set a objective of decreasing new HIV infections by 90% by the top of this decade?

STONE: Properly, it isn’t going to attain that if these huge gaps stay, particularly on the subject of PrEP. Nina Harawa is a professor of drugs and epidemiology at UCLA, and he or she factors out that prevention efforts cannot solely concentrate on homosexual and bisexual males. About one-fifth of latest instances of HIV have an effect on girls. There’s additionally extra outreach that may be accomplished for individuals who inject medication and are in danger. And Harawa believes that enhancing entry to PrEP, whereas nonetheless essential, cannot be the one answer right here.

NINA HARAWA: Concern folks have about taking a drugs after they’re not sick – I believe a few of that’s cultural. And I am considerably involved that the HIV prevention technique has been so formed round PrEP as a result of I believe that sort of resistance to taking one thing while you’re not sick is stronger amongst folks of colour.

STONE: Which is why she thinks there additionally must be consideration to different types of prevention, like condom use, early testing, and in the end to the foundation causes that contribute to the racial disparities in HIV.

RASCOE: NPR’s Will Stone, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us.

STONE: Thanks.

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