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Science Figures Interpreted and Analyzed by RealClearScience

How Is HIV Transmitted in the U.S.?

By Alex B. Berezow

While much progress has been made in both preventing the spread of and treating HIV, the transmission of the virus is still a significant problem in the United States. In the latest issue of MMWR, the CDC details HIV transmission in the United States. Overall, there were approximately 47,000 new HIV infections in 2010. (This figure excludes locations in five regions -- HI, MD, MA, VT and DC -- because they did not meet the CDC's reporting requirements for this study.)

The methods of HIV transmission are shown in the graph (which was adapted from the CDC report).

As shown, male-to-male sexual contact was responsible for 61% of new infections, but only 3.9% of American males are MSM (men who have sex with men). Thus, MSM are disproportionately affected by HIV.

The study also examined HIV transmission in large and small metropolitan areas and nonmetropolitan areas. The overall trends were similar.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "HIV Infections Attributed to Male-to-Male Sexual Contact — Metropolitan Statistical Areas, United States and Puerto Rico, 2010" MMWR 61 (47): 962-966.

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