A Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released Tuesday in advance of World AIDS Day Thursday said the low percentage is because one in five people with HIV do not realize they are infected and, of those who are aware, 51 percent receive ongoing medical care and treatment.
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, said nearly 1.2 million people live with HIV in the United States, but only an estimated 28 percent have a suppressed viral load -- defined as viral load less than 200 copies of the blood-borne virus per milliliter of blood -- meaning the virus is under control and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
However, of those living with HIV who are in ongoing care and on anti-retroviral treatment, 77 percent have suppressed levels of the virus.
"While we have known that viral suppression can be achieved with proper HIV treatment and care, today's new Vital Signs data highlight the challenges our country faces in keeping HIV-positive Americans in the care they need to control the virus," Frieden said in a statement.
"By improving testing, linkage to care and treatment services, we can help people living with HIV feel better and live longer, and can reduce the spread of HIV dramatically. This is not just an individual responsibility, but a responsibility for families, partners, communities and healthcare providers."