HIV Mortality Declined by Half

HIV-Related Deaths in the U.S. Declined by Half 2010 to 2017

On November 19, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) showing that the age-adjusted rate of HIV-related deaths among people with HIV in the U.S. was cut by nearly half from 2010 to 2017. The age-adjusted HIV-related death rate (the number of HIV-related deaths per 1,000 people with HIV) fell from 9.1 to 4.7.

Reductions in the rate of HIV-related deaths were seen across the board—among men and women of all ages. Although Black persons and white persons fell by two-thirds, and the HIV-related death rates for Hispanics/Latinx persons were the same in 2017. HIV-related deaths remain high, though, particularly among Black persons and persons of multiple races.

Researchers posit that much of the reduction in HIV-related deaths is due to early testing and diagnoses of people with HIV and getting them on lifesaving treatment. From 2010 to 2018, the number of Americans who knew their HIV status increased from 82% to 86%; in that same period, the number of HIV-positive people who had achieved an undetectable viral load rose from 46% to nearly 65%. “This change is critical, because people who maintain a suppressed or undetectable viral load not only live longer, healthier lives, but also have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV,” the study said.

The CDC cautions that, “Despite the progress highlighted in today’s study, there is an urgent need to get more infections diagnosed early and people with HIV into sustained HIV care and treatment. Bold action is needed to continue to reduce and ultimately eliminate racial disparities in new infections, early diagnosis, and viral suppression.”


The full MMWR study can be read at

—Reporting by Hank Trout

Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick Greathouse. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.