CDC Emphasizes the Need for Viral Suppression

November 26, 2014

In anticipation of World AIDS Day on Monday, the CDC released a factsheet and Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) highlighting the need for viral suppression in the US. This emphasis on strengthening the care continuum is part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) ongoing strategy of High Impact Prevention (HIP). HIP is part operating philosophy, part implementation strategy and overall a new way of looking at an old problem—prevent new HIV infections. HIP aims to utilize resources in the best way possible placing them in programs that will have the most impact. In many cases, this emphasizes getting HIV-positive individuals to achieve viral suppression so they greatly reduce the chances of transmitting to an HIV-negative partner.

All of the Vital Signs material report surveillance data from 2011 when the US had 1.2 million people living with HIV but only 360,000 (30%) virally suppressed. When data was disaggregated by age it showed that only 13% of young people (18-24) living with HIV made it to viral suppression. This is particularly troubling since young Black and Latino MSM have the highest rates of new infections. These numbers overall illustrate the gaps between HIV testing and consistent access and adherence to daily treatment. The Vital Signs materials provide an at-a-glance look at the problems faced in HIV treatment and provides evidence for the need to focus prevention dollars on people living with HIV.

The release of this information also coincides with the closing of the CDC’s most recent funding announcement P15-1502. This funding announcement will be the first to link funding dollars to the identification of HIV positive individuals. Grantees will receive as much as $200,000 for every 19-24 new infections. The grant also calls for organizations to develop and implement “a high impact HIV prevention program with HIV positive individuals”.

The new information released by the CDC reinforces the need for gap tightening within the care continuum and the continued focused on HIV-positive individuals for HIV prevention.