National HIV incidence for a given year x [I(x)] equals prevalence [P(x)] times the transmission rate [T(x)]. Or, simply rearranging the terms, T(x) = [I(x)/P(x)]*100 (where T(x) is the number of HIV transmissions per 100 persons living with HIV in a given year). The transmission rate is an underutilized measure of the speed at which the epidemic is spreading. Here, we utilize recently updated information about HIV incidence and prevalence in the U.S. to estimate the national HIV transmission rate for 2006 through 2008, and present a novel method to express the level of uncertainty in these estimates. Transmission rate estimates for 2006 through 2008 are as follows (respectively): 4.39 (4.01 to 4.73); 4.90 (4.49 to 5.28); and 4.06 (3.70 to 4.38). Although there are methodological challenges inherent in making these estimates, they do give some indications that the U.S. HIV transmission rate is at a historically low level.
Keywords: HIV; United States; epidemiology; evaluation.; mathematical modeling; transmission rate.