International AIDS Society

One in 250 US Veterans in Care Has HIV Infection, But Rate Is Stable

Author: Mark Mascolini

14 May 2010

US Veterans Affairs (VA) health centers cared for more than 23,000 veterans with HIV infection in 2008. With about 5.6 million veterans seeking care in that year, the proportion with HIV stands at 1 in 250. The Veterans Health Administration is the largest single provider of HIV care in the United States.

The number of HIV-positive veterans in care has remained relatively stable over the past 5 years. Better antiretroviral regimens and adherence to treatment guidelines in the VA system account for longer survival and the high median age of veterans treated for HIV, 53 years. One in five veterans with HIV is 60 or older.

Although 97% of US veterans with HIV are men, the VA system treats 600 female veterans with HIV. Almost half of veterans with HIV are African American. The VA population with HIV is concentrated in the southern United States.

Most veterans in care, 80%, are taking antiretrovirals. Although more than half of veterans in care in 2008 had an AIDS diagnosis at some point, only 14% had a CD4 count under 200 cells/┬ÁL or a CD4 percent below 14% in 2008.

The most common non-HIV illnesses in HIV-positive veterans are depression in 51%, hypertension in 49%, and dyslipidemia in 43%. A high proportion of veterans suffer from tobacco dependence, and 25% have hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

Large majorities of VA clinicians follow HIV-related guidelines for HCV screening (96%), Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia prophylaxis (86%), routine CD4 count and HIV viral load testing (79%), and hepatitis B screening and vaccination (77%).

Source: Veterans Affairs Administration. The state of care for veterans with HIV/AIDS, December 2009.

For the VA report