CDC: HIV Underreported By 40%

The CDC says that due to better reporting and improved blood tests, they now estimate the annual number of new HIV infections in the United States to 40% higher than previously thought.

The number of Americans infected by the AIDS virus each year is much higher than the government has been estimating, U.S. health officials reported Sunday, acknowledging that their numbers have understated the level of the epidemic. The country had roughly 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006 – a dramatic increase from the 40,000 annual estimate used for the last dozen years. The new figure is due to a better blood test and new statistical methods, and not a worsening of the epidemic, officials said. But it likely will refocus U.S. attention from the effect of AIDS overseas to what the disease is doing to this country, said public health researchers and officials. “This is the biggest news for public health and HIV/AIDS that we’ve had in a while,” said Julie Scofield, executive director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.

Gay men continue to comprise more than half of new infections annually.