HIV in America: The data behind the virus

Published on February 5th 2019

In his State of the Union speech, President Donald Trump called on funding to eliminate HIV and AIDS within 10 years. Here’s a look at the data behind the virus that once killed more people than liver disease, but has become less lethal in recent years.

The spread of HIV peaked in the mid-1980s, as the United States had an estimated 130,400 new cases in both 1984 and 1985, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC data shows that the number of diagnoses have been declining since 2006. In 2017, the agency released a report suggesting the decline is “due in large part, to efforts to increase the number of people living with HIV who know their HIV status and are virally suppressed.”

In 2017, HIV was diagnosed in over 38,000 people.

New HIV diagnoses

Note: Figures before 2008 are estimates from the CDC.

The virus continues to disproportionately affect certain populations, with African-Americans, gay and bisexual males, and those who live in the South being diagnosed more than the rest of the population.

HIV diagnoses rate by race (per 100,000 people)

HIV diagnoses rate by region (per 100,000 people)

HIV diagnoses by transmission type

The HIV-related death rate peaked in 1995, killing 16.3 out of every 100,000 people. In that year, HIV was a bigger contributor to death than each of these causes: suicides, homicides, drug overdoses and liver disease.

In 2016, the HIV-related death rate fell to 1.8 out of every 100,000 people.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Age-adjusted death rates for selected causes of death, by sex, race, and Hispanic origin: United States, selected years 1950–2016

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2017

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