The Epidemic | 07.2015


13% of HIV-positive Americans over the age of 13 don’t know they are infected.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV, 156,000—or about 13%—are unaware of their status, reports Les Fabian Brathwaite at

The Obama administration has a goal of at least 90% awareness among those infected with the virus that causes AIDS, with some states already having reached or surpassed that number.

Those states at or exceeding that goal are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii and New York, with Colorado coming in under the wire at 89.7%. Louisiana ranks lowest among states with HIV-infection awareness with 77%—10% lower than the national average.

However, among men who have sex with men—whom account for nearly 60% of new HIV cases each year—only Hawaii reached the 90% awareness goal. New York sat at a close 89.9%. Using available data, the CDC estimated that an average of 85.2% of HIV-positive men who have sex with men knew of their status nationwide.

The importance of knowing one’s status is important in not only properly caring for HIV infection—starting antiretroviral treatment right away can reduce risk of death or serious illness by 53%—but also in preventing its spread.

A recent study by JAMA Internal Medicine found that about 30% of new HIV transmissions could be traced to people who were infected but undiagnosed.