After HIV/AIDS was first identified as a single virus causing the symptoms and death, expected rates of infection were exaggerated. Now with the awareness of how the virus is contracted and antiretroviral treatments available to control viral loads, HIV is no longer the looming disease holding the top of the infection charts. What other diseases are more likely to be contracted in the United States?
Bacterial and Viral
The most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States is chlamydia. Over a million cases of this sexually transmitted bacterial infection were reported in 2014. Although it is curable with a course of prescribed antibiotics, it is often asymptomatic and goes untreated. This can cause long-term health problems.
Hepatitis C has already infected over 3 million Americans and, according to statistics gathered in 2007 by the CDC, kills more people per year than HIV. Many people don’t realize they’re infected with hepatitis C and the symptoms progress so slowly that it causes liver failure before they can be effectively treated.
Most infectious diseases that are commonly encountered are mild such as the common cold. Due to the delicacy of how many viruses and bacteria are structured—and the prevalence of antibacterial measures like hand sanitizer—most of the potentially lethal diseases cannot be easily transmitted. Viral infections such as hepatitis C cannot be cured with antibiotics. With anti-viral treatments, it is possible for the viral load to be reduced to an undetectable level, but viruses cannot be cured.
Where Does HIV Rank Now?
Every year an average of 50,000 new cases of HIV are reported in the United States alone. It is still a serious disease that needs to be treated and observed. It is not, however, as prevalent as people are led to believe.
With the advent of education and the information now available, the populace is aware of how dangerous certain activities are. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and salmonella are all more likely to be contracted than HIV due to the care people take when in potentially high risk situations. This is why HIV is the fifth most likely disease to be contracted and reported to medical professionals. With education, prevention and improved treatment, we can all work together to push HIV off of the list entirely.