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Over 1 million AIDS patients in US

WASHINGTON--Thirty years after the AIDS epidemic first surfaced, more people than ever before in the United States — more than 1.1 million — are living with HIV, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Thursday.

The longevity of AIDS patients is widely attributed to the success of anti-retroviral drugs which became widespread in the 1990s, but the rise in cases presents new risks for spreading HIV, the CDC said.

The CDC's latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report was issued three decades after its June 5, 1981 edition that described unusual cases of pneumonia and Kaposi's sarcoma in five young men in Los Angeles.

“This report later was acknowledged as the first published scientific account of what would become known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS),” the CDC said.

According to the most recent figures at the end of 2008, a total of 1,178,350 people in the United States were living with HIV, the CDC said.

About 33.3 million people were living with HIV worldwide at the end of 2009.

Since the epidemic first surfaced, nearly 600,000 people have died of AIDS in the United States, the CDC said.

The number of new AIDS cases reported annually peaked in 1992, with 75,457 that year.

Three years later, in 1995, the United States saw its highest number of deaths in a single year from AIDS — 50,628.

After that, anti-retroviral drugs were introduced and fatalities began to fall, leveling out at an average of 38,279 AIDS diagnoses and 17,489 deaths per year from 1999 to 2008, the CDC said.

In the United States, gay men continue to account for the majority of new cases at more than half of all new infections, mainly among whites.

However, black men are disproportionately affected by new HIV infections at a rate of six times that of white men and three times more than Latinos.

Among women, HIV is 15 times as common among blacks as it is among whites.

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