According to government researchers, just over 40% of the U. S. population has been screened at least once for HIV, but a quarter of a million people are infected and do not know it.
A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), concluded that there were about 56,300 newly infected people in 2006, compared with the 40,000 figure the CDC cited as the recent annual incidence of the disease.
About 10% of the population gets an HIV test each year–a figure that has remained stable since 2000 despite efforts to increase testing–according to a report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new figures indicate that gay men and young African American and Latinos are most affected by HIV infection.
Officials also indicated that an HIV-positive individual who is unaware of their infection is three times as likely to transmit the virus as one who knows his or her status.
Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, agreed, stating that blacks are more disproportionately affected than any other racial or ethnic group in the country. He added that gay and bisexual black men “are one of the most severely impacted groups in the world.”
Dr. Fenton contributed the increase in this group to poverty, lack of access to healtcare, substance abuse, incarceration and a rise in other sexually transmitted diseases.
The new data “confirm that AIDS in America is a black disease and has been neglected for far too long,” Phill Wilson, founder and chief executive of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, told news sources.
Last year, the CDC allocated additional funds to 23 jurisdictions to test an extra 20 million people, primarily African Americans, in hopes of identifying 20,000 more HIV-positive people.
Researchers are hoping that the increased testing will identify infections at an earlier stage so people can begin receiving anti-AIDS drugs while the treatment can do more good.
On Wednesday, President Bush approved $39 billion to fight AIDS around the world, nearly triple the $15 billion spent over the previous five years.
More than 15,000 Americans die of AIDS each year.