CDC Releases 2008 Surveillance Report Showing Higher Number of People Living with HIV, but Stable Rate of New Infections


On June 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its latest HIV Surveillance Report, presenting data for cases of HIV infection and AIDS in 2008 (as reported to CDC through June 2009). The CDC estimates that there are more than 1 million people now living with HIV in the U.S. The yearly number of HIV diagnoses rose between 2005 and 2008, in part due to increased testing, but the estimated number of actual new infections, as well as the diagnosis rate relative to the total population, have remained stable in recent years

The report includes the most recent epidemiological data on new diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS, death and survival after an HIV or AIDS diagnosis, the total number of people living with HIV or AIDS nationwide, and HIV/AIDS data for individual cities and states.

Because HIV positive people are surviving longer thanks to effective antiretroviral treatment, there are now more people living with HIV in the U.S. than ever before -- 1,106,400 adults and adolescents at the end of 2006, the most recent year for which national prevalence estimates are available. The CDC holds that HIV incidence [new cases] has remained stable for several years -- at about 56,000 annually -- despite increasing prevalence [total cases].

Diagnoses of HIV infection reported to the CDC have increased, however. In 2008, a total of 41,269 people were reported to be HIV positive in the 37 states with long-term name-based HIV reporting -- an increase of 8% since 2005. The agency suggests the increase is attributable to increased HIV testing and uncertainty in statistical estimates, since "available incidence estimates do not suggest an overall increase in new HIV infections in recent years." The diagnosis rate, or number of new HIV diagnoses per 100,000 persons, also remained relatively stable from 2005 to 2008 (indicating that the increase in the number of people diagnosed has matched the increase in the size of the total population).

The report also looks at disparities -- both geographic and demographic -- in who is most heavily affected by HIV/AIDS.

Men who have sex with men represent an estimated 2% of the U.S. population, but account for more than half of all new HIV infections; between 2005 and 2008, estimated diagnoses in this group increased by about 17%. African Americans are more heavily affected than other racial/ethnic groups. Blacks represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but account for almost half of all new HIV infections.

The full report, Diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2008, is available on the CDC website at

To put the report's findings in context, the CDC has released a new fact sheet providing an overview of the overall picture of the HIV epidemic in the U.S. This fact sheet draws on data from multiple sources including the 2008 surveillance report.

The overview is available online at

The agency also released a second fact sheet summarizing some of the changes in the latest surveillance report. Major changes include a revised HIV case definition implemented in 2008 and a greater emphasis on HIV rather than AIDS -- as reflected in the title change from the AIDS Surveillance Report to the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report and finally to the HIV Surveillance Report.

The report now includes 42 areas (37 states and 5 dependent areas) that have reported confidential name-based, as opposed to anonymous, HIV infection data to CDC long enough to be statistically relevant, at least since January 2005. These 37 states represent approximately 68% of the epidemic in the 50 states. Some areas with large numbers of HIV/AIDS cases -- including California, Illinois, and Washington, DC -- did not start reporting HIV by name until 2006. All states now use name-based reporting, but adequate data from all 50 states will not be available until the surveillance report for 2012 (to be issued in 2014).

The changes fact sheet is available at

"Almost 30 years after the first case of AIDS was reported, HIV remains a significant cause of illness and death," said Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, in an email message announcing the new report. "Through our collective work, we have made great progress in slowing the epidemic. But within the overall epidemic, some groups and areas are more affected than others. Therefore, we must remain vigilant and focus our resources where they will make the biggest difference."



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, 2008. CDC National Prevention Information Network announcement. June 14, 2010.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2008. HIV Surveillance Report Vol 20. June 2010.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV in the United States: An Overview. Fact sheet. Updated June 2010.