The HIV Epidemic in the U.S.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease remains a serious health threat in the United States. Adolescents and young adults are among the groups at highest risk for this virus that attacks the immune system. There is no cure for HIV. If not treated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Without treatment, individuals with AIDS typically survive only about three years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2021).
Ending the nation’s HIV epidemic by 2030 is the goal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which announced a plan in 2019 to meet that goal, stating, “HIV has cost America too much for too long and remains a significant public health issue” (HHS, 2021). The 2019 plan, titled Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S., calls for:
- 75 percent reduction in new HIV cases by 2025
- 90 percent reduction by 2030
If those goals are met, an estimated 250,000 HIV cases would be prevented (Ibid., 2021).
New HIV cases have decreased from a peak in the mid-1980s. Yet the federal government warns of a possible HIV resurgence, citing trends in substance injection; HIV-related stigma; homophobia and transphobia; lack of access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment; and lack of awareness that HIV remains a significant public health threat (Ibid., 2021).
A key strategy of the plan to reduce new HIV cases by 90 percent is prevention, including use of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) medication. This quick course provides an introduction to PrEP and shows how pediatricians and other primary care providers in Texas can use risk reduction guidance, HIV testing and PrEP to stop HIV transmission.