April 19th, 2011 | Published in HIV Symptoms
HIV infection rates are particularly high among men who have sex with other men, it’s important to note that a significant percentage of heterosexual individuals are contracting HIV each year. According to the U.S. CDC, an estimated 56,300 Americans are contracting HIV annually, a statistic that public health officials agree is extremely unsettling. In fact, 31 percent of annual new HIV cases in the U.S. can be attributed to heterosexual contact. Furthermore, approximately 28 percent of individuals living with HIV in the U.S. contracted the disease via heterosexual activity.
Who’s Contracting HIV?
According to the CDC’s most recent HIV and AIDS statistics, men who have sex with men account for approximately 53 percent of all new annual U.S. HIV infections. Furthermore, approximately 48 percent of people living with HIV are men who have sex with men, making it the only at-risk group in which an increasing number of members have been contracting HIV since the early 1990s.
Current HIV and AIDS statistics also indicate that women account for about 27% of annual new HIV infections in the country. Additionally, approximately 25 percent of individuals living with HIV are women. IV drug users, by comparison, correspond to about 12 percent of annual new U.S. HIV infections and 19 percent of those living with HIV.
Living With HIV AIDS Today
The CDC estimates that currently, over one million people are living with HIV in the United States. What’s more alarming, perhaps, is the fact that approximately one out of every five infected individuals does not know that he or she has the disease.
Though medical science has made it possible to continue living with HIV, AIDS is always a concern for those infected. Once HIV progresses to AIDS, the immune system can become severely compromised. This is precisely why regular HIV testing is crucial for those at risk. Once detected, HIV can be managed via antiretroviral drugs and other effective treatments. In fact, whereas HIV was once considered a fatal disease, according to the CDC’s website, “HIV is now a chronic disease requiring ongoing primary care management.” The key, however, is to identify infection through routine testing even in the absence of early HIV symptoms which often aren’t present.
Who’s at Risk for Contracting HIV?
Those who engage in high-risk sexual behavior are at an increased risk for contracting HIV. This includes engaging sexually with multiple partners at a time and neglecting to use protection during all forms of intercourse. Additionally, anyone infected with an STD such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or genital herpes, is at an increased risk of contracting HIV. In fact, the CDC’s website states that “individuals who are infected with STDs are at least two to five times more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire HIV infection if they are exposed to the virus through sexual contact. In addition, if an HIV-infected individual is also infected with another STD, that person is more likely to transmit HIV through sexual contact than other HIV-infected persons.” Regular STD testing for other, more widespread infections can therefore reduce the risk of contracting HIV for all sexually active individuals.
Any sexually active adults should get an HIV test annually. Those with higher risk factors should be tested more frequently.