Nov 20, 2020 - Health

U.S. HIV death rate dropped by roughly half between 2010 and 2018

A medical assistant drawing blood from a patient for an HIV test in Miami in June 2017.

A medical assistant drawing blood from a patient for an HIV test in Miami in June 2017. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

HIV-related deaths in the United States decreased significantly between 2010 and 2018 for all genders, ages, races and regions of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in its weekly Morbidity and Mortality report on Thursday.

The big picture: CDC researchers said in a new analysis that the decline is likely the result of improvements in diagnosing infections, treatment and medical care, but noted the data highlights higher death rates among women and people of color.

By the numbers: The overall death rate among people with HIV dropped by 36.6% from what it was in 2010.

  • The rate of deaths directly related to the virus decreased by 48.4% — from 9.1 deaths per 1,000 people with HIV to 4.7 per 1,000.

HIV infection rates and the number of associated deaths were greater among Black people and populations in Southern states compared to other races and regions.

  • "Higher levels of poverty, unemployment, and persons uninsured, challenges associated with accessing care, and HIV-related stigma likely affect timely diagnosis and access to treatment and contribute to higher rates of HIV-related deaths," the researchers wrote.
  • The proportion of HIV-related deaths among people between ages 13 and 44 years old who were diagnosed with the virus was higher than that among older people. This is likely because they can't access treatment or don’t regularly seek care, the CDC noted.

Of note: The CDC did not provide details on HIV testing or therapy over recent months, but "many facilities have shuttered their H.I.V. clinics or reported decreases in the number of people using their services" since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York Times notes.

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