Map tracks and predicts Atlanta’s battle with HIV

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Gay Atlanta, take note. As the CDC determines the stages of HIV to better track, predict and treat it, an interactive map out of Emory helps visualize where metro Atlanta’s battle with the disease stands.

Using data from five major U.S. cities including Atlanta, researchers at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control & Prevention are nailing down the five stages of HIV care from new diagnosis to viral suppression. The data released on Monday lets officials show exactly where in the care continuum patients are, as well as when they are most and least likely to infect others.

Not only can help officials and advocates improve the lives of people with HIV, but it can also help monumentally reduce and even avert spreading the virus to 9 out of 10 new people currently expected to get the virus, the CDC asserts (video above).

More than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States could be averted by diagnosing people living with HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment.

Using statistical modeling, the authors developed the first U.S. estimates of the number of HIV transmissions from people engaged at five consecutive stages of care (including those who are unaware of their infection, those who are retained in care and those who have their virus under control through treatment). The research also shows that the further people progress in HIV care, the less likely they are to transmit their virus.

Across the street at Emory University, AIDSVu – the same folks who bring us a zip code-by-zip code breakdown of Atlanta’s overall AIDS situation – comes a new care continuum map to show where local poz people live in the CDC’s five HIV stages – new diagnosis, late diagnosis, folks linked to HIV care, engaged in their own HIV care, and those with a suppressed viral load.

The areas with the highest risk of new diagnosis over the next five years in metro Atlanta (map below, shown in darkest purple) are concentrated at the city center including Downtown and Midtown, and cut a swath southwest toward the Atlanta airport. Those zip codes are 30308, 30309, 30310, 30312, 30314, 30315, 30316, 30318, 30324, 30332 and 30349.

AIDS Vu’s map analysis represents worsening gaps in achieving the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the CDC's HIV Strategic Plan targets. It's sobering, if nothing new.

What can HIV caregivers glean from all of this, and how much could it help? Tons, according to the CDC. The care continuum data allows local communities, health departments and policy makers to visualize areas of success and opportunities for improvement in HIV testing, care and treatment. 

“By quantifying where HIV transmissions occur at each stage of care, we can identify when and for whom prevention and treatment efforts will have the most impact,” said Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

“We could prevent the vast majority of new infections tomorrow by improving the health of people living with HIV today.”

[CDC | AIDS Vu | HIVcontinuum]


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